De-legitimization of the Polish constitutional court – survey data analysis

Paper empirically analyses the impact of 2015 constitutional crisis on public confidence in Polish Constitutional Court (CC), drawing on 48 waves of face to face interviews carried out over 2002-19 period by CBOS. It looks beyond the unprecedented break in CC approval during the crisis, clustering various institutions along two dimensions: perceived competence (defined as a ratio of positive to negative assessments) and specialization level (defined as a share of respondents unable to assess given institution’s performance). Three clusters emerged: PARTISAN – low competence, low specialization (two Parliament chambers, cabinet), NONPARTISAN – higher competence, low specialization (police, the President) and TECHNOCRATIC – high competence, high specialization (central bank, Supreme Audit Office, Ombudsman, CC). Crisis permanently and immediately shifted CC from technocratic towards the partisan cluster, permanently damaging its legitimacy. Alternative CATI surveys confirm the results.