We had a situation in Poland where for 20 years we were pushed to change the national culture to reach so-called ‘European standards.’ But this point of view has completely collapsed — people understand that we can be different, and that’s OK.
My latest article, for Politico Europe, takes a look at how Poland’s ruling party has responded to the challenge of the far-right by turning a blind eye to its increasingly visible activity. It can be found here.
There’s a new force rising in Polish politics, and it isn’t the fragmented and dispirited centrist and left-wing opposition. Since sweeping to power in 2015, Law and Justice has had to contend with a political challenge that has received little attention outside of Poland – a surge in nationalist sentiment, particularly amongst the young.
Fuelled by a perceived lack of economic opportunity at home and resentment at often menial and unfulfilling work abroad, youthful hostility towards liberal elites was ignited by the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014 and the onset of Europe’s migrant crisis.
The phenomenon has proved awkward for PiS, which portrays itself as engaged in a patriotic struggle for the reclamation of national independence from the forces of liberalism, but which has found itself under pressure from radical voices even further to its right like the National Movement (RN), a coalition of national-Catholic and far-right organisations, including the ONR and All-Polish Youth.