Poland is unique. It is the only country where the government consists solely of populist parties. It is impossible to analyze it using traditional academic models because, for historical reasons, the classical fault lines of the party-building process do not exist in Poland. The populists’ success feeds on demographic pressure, the transformation of values, and a deep-seated uncertainty brought on by the reforms at the end of the 1990s. But a comparison with Europe shows that populism in Poland is not unique. It has the same paradoxical consequences: populists attack democracy, but they make it more stable by expanding its ability to integrate; they make use of anti-modern rhetoric, but by polarizing, they consolidate their opponents and drive modernization forward; and because populists are as a rule incapable of solving the problems that they have identified, they lose voters’ support.
10 August 2007