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Europe, the Pope and the Holy Left Alliance in Poland

Kacper Pobłocki

Keywords: Catholicism; European Union; John Paul II; legitimization; Poland; post-socialism; religion; state

This article describes why the Polish government has pushed for an invocation to Christian traditions in the European Union Constitution. It is argued that this is a rather 'unfortunate' outcome of the political alliance between the Catholic Church and the Polish left, especially between President Aleksander Kwaśniewski and the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). This alliance allowed the SLD to legitimize their rule in the post-socialist Poland, and it was a result of a political competition between them and the post-Solidarność elites. As a result, John Paul II became the central integrative metaphor for the Polish society at large, which brought back in the marginalized as well as allowed the transition establishment to win the EU accession referendum in 2003. The article (which was written when Leszek Miller was still Prime Minister) demonstrates how this alliance crystallized and presents various elements of the cult of the Pope in Poland that followed. Finally, it argues that the worship of the Pope is not an example of nationalism, but of populism, understood not as a peripheral but as a central political force, and advocates for more research on the 'politics of emotions' at work in the centers and not in peripheries.

Affiliations

Pobłocki, Kacper - Central European University