Good change, bad change

plThe Good Change policy programme has resulted in a very deep political polarisation among Polish society. This polarisation is unlikely to change soon – said Adam Balcer in the latest EFCR publication “Keeping Europeans together

Immediately after winning its parliamentary majority, Law and Justice launched a broad and rapidly implemented policy offensive called “Good Change” (a slogan coined by the party to describe its political agenda). This programme mirrors the Hungarian model of majoritarian democracy, which has been identified by Freedom House as a gradual authoritarian slide. The Polish government’s rejection of the liberal form of democracy has caused an unprecedented conflict between Warsaw and the EU institutions (the European Commission and the European Parliament). In January 2016, for the first time ever, the European Commission launched a structured dialogue with Poland under the Rule of Law Framework. In April 2016 the European Parliament by an overwhelming majority adopted a resolution criticising the Good Change programme. And on 1 June 2016 the European Commission issued a negative opinion on the rule of law situation in Poland.

The Good Change concept applies beyond domestic policy: it also involves the most far-reaching reorientation in Poland’s European policy since the country’s accession to the EU. Law and Justice wants Poland to distance itself from further EU integration and even supports the reversal of integration policies. The Law and Justice perceives the establishment of the Eurozone as a great mistake. The ideal EU, as imagined by Law and Justice, would be a very loose association of predominant sovereign national states. The most serious conflict in Law and Justice’s approach to the EU lies in the sphere of identity. Party leader Jarosław Kaczyński believes that Poland is a last hold-out of the genuine traditional West (because of its conservatism, Roman Catholicism, and ethnic nationalism), and that the West has lost its way because of its liberal character. And most probably in the near future the EU will continue to challenge Poland on its rejection of liberal values. These differences in worldview will be very difficult to bridge in the coming years.

Text above is a part of the essay “Poland: “Good change”, bad change“, by Adam Balcer for the EFCR publication.

The EFCR publication (“Keeping Europeans together“) reflect the diversity of European cohesion. It provides the national context and personal assessments of the state of cohesion from representatives of the EU member states. To read the publication, please visit EFCR website.

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