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Photo:Demonstracja zwolenników PiS,” by Piotr Drabik licensed under CC BY 2.0. The hue is modified from the original.

Zięba, Ryszard. “Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics.” In Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe: Contemporary Challenges, pp. 83-117. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2023.


After Poland joined the European Union, strong conservatism, nationalism, populism, and authoritarianism arose in Poland and pushed the country onto the illiberal path. This political course is represented primarily by the Law and Justice (PiS) party, which governed the country in 2005–2007 and has been in power since 2015. The roots of Polish illiberalism are both domestic and foreign. The main manifestations of the illiberal and nationalist turn in Poland’s politics are as follows: the elimination of the separation of powers and violation of the rule of law, including violation of the independence of the judiciary; restriction of the right to assembly and repression of demonstrators; attack on the free media; control of schooling and higher education; centralization of governance, and taking away competences from local government; tightening the ban on abortion; inhumane treatment of immigrants from the Middle East; corruption and nepotism on an unprecedented scale; public surveillance and repression of people who criticize the authorities. These activities of the Polish authorities have consequences to foreign policy and international role of Poland, such as: a Euro-skepticism manifested in an anti-Brussels stance and in disputes with EU institutions, Germany, and France; close collaboration with illiberal Hungary, and with other illiberal movements abroad; nationalist and great-power approach with regard to Russia; the bi-lateralization and militarization of security policy. The consequences of this Poland’s policy are detrimental to itself and to the international environment.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.