Populist Challenges to Liberal Constitutionalism: A Case of Poland

In this contribution to the panel, I will describe the specific characteristics of Polish populist dismantling of constitutional checks and balances typical of liberal constitutionalism: the cumulative and comprehensive nature of assaults upon checks and balances and upon political rights; the factor of emulation (mainly, of the Hungarian example); statutory “amendments” of the Constitution; the maintenance of formal institutions untouched while eroding them of democratic content; association with a fundamental drop of civility of public discourse. I will demonstrate how all these factors, combined, have produced a powerful challenge to liberal constitutionalism, and at the end I will reflect upon the resources (if any) in Polish constitutional and legal system to reduce the nefarious effects of the populist assault. I will also explain why the notion of “unconstitutional populist backsliding” is the most accurate characterization of Polish developments since 2015.