Understanding the outcome of the 2015 Polish General Election: Why Poland Challenges our Contemporary Perceptions of the Causes of Democratic Backsliding

Democratic regression is identified as an accelerating trend around the world. Traditionally, democratic backsliding has been associated with poor economic performances and the decline of mainstream political parties. This is said to lead the public to elect populist candidates that vow to fix the states' problems, but who eventually lead the country down an undemocratic path. This submission addresses preconceptions related to the causes of democratic decay using the case study of Poland which challenges these prevailing theories. Poland was the only EU country that boasted economic growth in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The party that successfully lead Poland through the financial crisis, lost narrowly the 2015 election. Therefore, if economic turmoil and a fragmented party system are not to blame for Poland’s democratic backsliding, then what is? This submission assesses possible answers such as the power of a persuasive leader and the failures of the electoral system.