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The 2015 victory of Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) party is an example of the rise of contemporary authoritarian populism. The PiS’s rise can be attributed to a cultural backlash against “long-term ongoing social change,” and not, as the “Poland in ruins” theory holds, against trenchant inequality or downward mobility. In spite of its limited core electorate and by virtue of a number of distinct factors, the PiS gained a parliamentary absolute majority; it has since drawn on this majority to dismantle democratic checks and balances. The PiS’s policies have led to intensifying xenophobia, aggressive nationalism, and unprecedented polarisation that have engendered deep splits within Polish society and have given rise to social protest movements not seen in Poland since 1989.


Issue Date: 
October 2016
Volume: 
27
Issue: 
1
Page Numbers: 
58-68

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