Constitutionalism and Masses. View on/from Poland

Contemporary constitutional theory treats masses with great suspicion. They are only necessary to legitimize the “constitutional moment”. The dominant liberal theory sees masses as too unstable and irrational to participate in constitutional practice. Constitutionalism needs mass support but marginalizes masses as political actor. However, the mass protests taking place in Poland since 2016 show a new emerging dynamic. Here, masses try to influence the constitutional order not only negatively, blocking planned political actions, but also positively, trying to change understandings of fundamental rights and rule of law. However, to enable positive influence, institutionalizing the masses is necessary. Crucial in this is the reaction of government, courts and other political actors, who may support, restrain, ignore or take over the protests. Such institutionalization is disregarded by constitutionalism, but it is indispensable to ensure democratic pluralism.