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.

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