The Polish country report traces the origins of Poland’s open society through the Solidarity movement of the 1980s and the postcommunist transition of the early 1990s. Although the country has since gone through a significant political and economic transformation, the recent success of authoritarian populism and the undermining of democratic institutions by the PiS government have raised questions about how entrenched democratic values really are in Poland.
Using Voices on Values original survey data Filip Pazderski addresses some of these questions by showing that support for basic democratic principles in Poland is generally high, but that Poles tend to embrace a majoritarian definition of democracy. They support basic principles that apply to all people in society, such as freedom of expression, but more readily trade off other principles, such as the protection of minority rights, for other concerns.
Through the expert interviews, Pazderski paints a sobering picture of the Solidarity movement’s democratic legacy. They reveal that even though the movement and the ensuing democratic transition have had a lasting impact on the country’s political system, the limited degree to which the movement’s ‘open’ principles seem to have taken root have today become a source of disappointment.