far right nationalism in Poland

Tyson Symes

With the 2019 election in Poland saw the PiS party win in the largest percentage fora Polish election since they were started in 1989 Poland election: Ruling Law and Justice party win poll the PiS party is openly opposed to gay marriage and insists it’s a threat to society Polish election: Leader targets gay rights as threat to society. The party also tried to lower the age of retirement to force judges into retiring early and used state backed threats to judges who opposed them ‘They’re trying to break me’: Polish judges face state-led intimidation. After a near total abortion ban people were protesting across Poland Protests erupt as Poland adopts near-total ban on abortion. The government even tried to imprison those who ‘falsely’ claimed that the Polish were complicit in the Nazi death camps. Poland Holocaust law: Government U-turn on jail threat. And while they turned back on it it brought up an interesting thought. Why has Poland, a country that suffered dearly under Nazi rule, going to the far-right? It would not be expected that a country that suffered under them would be staunchly opposed to that kind of government because of what happened. However, Nazi Germany was not the only time Poland has suffered 

Poland as a country is a state who has had their fair share of ups and downs throughout history and on multiple occasions has just ceased to exist. Poland’s Territorial Changes 1635-Present – Life, Death & Rebirth and even at times when it did exist it was not fully under its own control such as during the Cold War where it was very heavily overseen by the USSR. In response there were multiple uprisings against the government such as the Poznan Riots in 1956 Poznań Riots | Polish history, protests in 1970, and again in 1980. It wasn’t really until the 1990s that Poland could really govern itself with no outside influence controlling them.

So when the PiS came along saying that they wanted to put Poland’s priorities first, people could be happy for that because it was something that they haven’t seen in a long time. A similar thing could be seen in Germany and Italy in the interwar period. People had suffered under the previous government and this had caused them to look for some more extreme options, and in Poland they had just been under Communist rule for decades. So when people looked to a side to land on they chose the opposite of those who they had just felt they suffered under. 

Poland is also a deeply catholic state and the PiS is looking to push forward on that angle Poland’s government is leading a Catholic revival. It has minorities and liberals worried and as this happens it would mean more and more people would look to the right as the party to choose because they are the ones preaching the Catholic angle, but as this happens more and more freedoms can and would likely be taken away but the religious angle would try to counteract that by saying the changes are a good thing and need to be happening. This is creating a front in which the government and religion are more linked if they get their way eventually actually encoded into law within the country. So by taking what was already a deeply religious country and then not one trying to make the people more religious but also to ensure that the religion is then linked into law it helps the right wing government solidify their power into a position that people can’t effectively protest around. 

However these issues are not just in Poland but rather are seen in other Eastern European countries as well such as Hungary How Hungary Became a Haven for the Alt-Right and Belarus Belarus fighter jet forces Ryanair plane to land to detain opposition blogger. These show that the issue is more than just a Polish thing and is seen in the region as a whole leading me to more firmly believe that a large part of the right wing rise in Poland and by extension, Eastern Europe as a whole is due to the Cold War and how some of these countries suffered under the USSR’s sphere of influence and we are now seeing a bounce to the other end.