Support for a Populist Government in Poland

A Few Notes about Its Economic and Cultural Divides

in The International Journal of Social Quality
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  • 1 PhD Student, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy michal.gulczynski@phd.unibocconi.it
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Abstract

In the recent years, one of the most popular subjects of research in political science has been the rise of populism. In Poland, an anti-establishment government has won a second electoral cycle in a row. However, unlike in Hungary, the opposition received a comparable share of the vote. In this article, I try to show how a country with a seemingly homogeneous population could have become so divided. I argue that the current polarization is based on the lack of social recognition of the less well-off citizens and areas, and on the lack of social cohesion: deeply rooted cultural and moral divisions in society overlapping with differences in economic situation. Those underlying causes explain why civil society in Poland is still able to mobilize, but they also let us predict that the divisions will not disappear soon. Although the political preferences of the youth suggest a strong demand for more pluralism, the new gender cleavage may deepen with time, based on a similar logic: diverging life courses and a lack of social cohesion and recognition exploited by polarizing parties. The explanations offered here contribute to the understanding of not only the success of anti-establishment parties in Poland but also of the differences between the Western and Central and Eastern European political mainstream.

Contributor Notes

Michał Gulczyński is a PhD Student at the Bocconi University in Milan, Italy, where he specializes in public policy and administration. His main research interests are European integration, political demography and voting behavior. Email: michal.gulczynski@phd.unibocconi.it

The International Journal of Social Quality

(formerly The European Journal of Social Quality)

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