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Poland’s Right Won the Day, But Not the Future

New Parties and New Voters Make Themselves Heard

PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Marowiecki in Warsaw, October 2019 Kacper Pempel/Reuters

When Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS) first rose to power in 2015, some liberal commentators dismissed the populist upsurge as an aberration. For years, the governing majority party had allowed economic and social grievances to fester without resolution, and the resulting vacuum was easy for a newcomer to step into. Moreover, PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski rode a wave of sympathy, because his twin brother, Lech, then the Polish president, had died in a 2010 plane crash over Smolensk.

Four years after its first electoral sweep, PiS can no longer be regarded as a fluke. Just last week, Polish voters delivered PiS a renewed majority in the parliament’s lower house, the Sejm. This latest victory was not a mistake, and there was little that the opposition could have done to prevent it. In fact, PiS attracted more than two million more voters in 2019 than it did in 2015, taking 235 of

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