After the fall of the communist Soviet Union in 1991, Poland was left to be a free country. Poland was at peace with their neighbors and had the opportunity to build a country off of democratic principles and processes. Since this period of prosperity and hope, Jarosław Kaczyński, one of the first slate of candidates for the Sejm, is slowly eroding the democracy within Poland. Kaczyński has twisted the principles of democracy to be compromises of communist ideals to satisfy those with communist ideals still in Poland’s political institutions. This gave rise to the Law and Justice Party.
The Law and Justice Party argues that homosexuals, liberals, and communists attempt to undermine Polish democracy and must be stopped (The Atlantic). The freedom the Polish people acquired after the fall of the Soviet Union is no longer protected by Kaczyński’s democracy. After 2015, Kaczyński won the presidency and gained a absolute majority in the Sejm.
Poland’s democratic backsliding began with an attach on people based off their preferences and political ideologies. According to Robert Dahl, a democracy is one that allows people to form preferences, signify them to government officials, and have them weighted. Under Kaczyński’s administration, if you are not in line with the Law and Justice Party, your preferences are invalid. Of the examples of how a democracy erodes, Kaczyński has used his rise to power in order to manipulate his citizens into undermining the principles of a democracy in order to strengthen his grip on Poland.
The so called democracy that Poland has is being eroded away by Kaczyński and with it the integrity of other democracies around it. Opposition parties are too worried of the infighting that will come if standing up to the Law and Justice Party. Nancy Bermeo shows clearly that with a rise of leader disqualifications, the level of opposition harassment slowly levels off. With weakened checks and balances over the sections of Poland’s democracy, Kaczyński and his administration have undertaken steps of institution change to strip the power of the opposition to push his agenda forward. Over the years, Kaczyński has abused his power as president to attack the democratic institutions of Poland. This insider manipulation loses all the trust the Polish people have of a free future. If their leader abuses his power, what trust do they have that their future will prosper under his control? In the past five years, Kaczyński has pushed his political propaganda through television networks, restricted freedom of speech, and opened multiple lawsuits upon Polish political leaders (The Atlantic). This slowly strips away any hops of a Dahl democracy where the citizens preferences are taken into consideration.
According to Schumpeter’s definition of a democracy, civil rights and liberties must be in place for a democracy to exist. But, without the rights of homosexuals and the rights of free speech, Poland is far from a functioning and free democracy. Kaczyński has even gone as far as to spread conspiracy theories to get what he wants and limits the functions of the Polish court system. Polish people have an imposing return of communistic ideals and a possible dictator if Kaczyński remains in power. Kaczyński’s executive aggrandizement brings Poland to a dire situation along with putting many minority groups in harmful environments.
Minority rights are being stripped away and the integrity of a democracy is no longer. Kaczyński’s executive aggrandizement brings Poland to a dire situation along with putting many minority groups in harmful environments.
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