Constitutional Capture and “Illiberal Democracy”: The Case of Poland

In my paper I intend to use the Polish case study to reflect upon the relationship between populism and democracy. A widespread view that populism is a democratic response to liberal excesses will be the main target of my criticism. I will argue that, at least as far as constitutional capture in Poland is concerned, “populist democracy” is an oxymoron: some anti-democratic tendencies (such as anti-egalitarianism, exclusionary character, anti-representativeness and anti-pluralism) built into populism, Polish style, are inherent to populism rather than being merely contingent and marginal. I will also show, again using post-2015 Poland as a case study, how the assaults upon typically liberal checks and balances are intrinsically connected to erosion of certain political rights which are essential to democracy: not just its liberal variety, but democracy tout court.