Law and Justice party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski speaks at a pro-government demonstration in front of the Constitutional Court building in Warsaw, Poland, December 2015.
Kacper Pempel / REUTERS

Winter has come to Europe, but it seems to be springtime for the continent’s autocrats. Following the example of the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz Party, Poland’s new government, led by the nationalist-populist Law and Justice party (PiS), has launched assaults on the country’s judiciary and public media, putting Polish democracy and the rule of law at risk. In December, tens of thousands of Poles demonstrated against the government’s illiberal actions; European Commission officials, meanwhile, have promised to investigate whether the developments in Poland constitute a “systemic threat” to the rule of law there. Unsurprisingly, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the PiS, has dismissed the protestors as traitors and rejected criticism from abroad.

Poland’s constitutional order is locked in a standoff.

In Poland’s political crisis, the European Union is reaping the consequences of its inaction against Hungary’s drift toward

To read the full article

  • R. DANIEL KELEMEN is Professor of Political Science and Law and Jean Monnet Chair in European Union Politics at Rutgers University.
  • MITCHELL A. ORENSTEIN is Professor of Central and East European Politics at University of Pennsylvania.
  • More By R. Daniel Kelemen
  • More By Mitchell A. Orenstein