The new politics of Poland

A case of post-traumatic sovereignty

By Jaroslaw Kuisz

The new politics of Poland
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  • Price: £25.00
  • ISBN: 9781526155870
  • Publish Date: Nov 2023
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    eBook -
  • Price: £25.00
  • ISBN: 9781526155863
  • Publish Date: Dec 2023
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Book Information

    • Format: eBook
    • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5586-3
    • Published Date: December 2023


    The election of populist far-right party Law and Justice in 2015 marked a shocking break in Polish politics. A period of stability was brutally interrupted as Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his allies took over public media and launched a controversial 'reform' of the judiciary.

    How was this illiberal turn possible after years of democratic development? Jaroslaw Kuisz, one of Poland's leading liberal thinkers, digs deep into Polish history to propose an original analysis of the crisis. He reveals how centuries of statelessness have left Poles with a 'post-traumatic' attitude to sovereignty, making them wary of powerful foreign blocks, be it the EU, the Soviet Union or present-day Russia. This is a phenomenon populists have proved adept at exploiting.

    Providing a brilliant account of Europe's largest illiberal democracy, The new politics of Poland shines a light on the broader situation in East and Central Europe, offering valuable lessons for other countries experiencing the rise of populist right-wing movements.


    'A must-read for anyone interested in the future of populism in Poland, Europe and beyond.'
    Anne Applebaum, author of Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism

    'If you want to understand what is happening in the largest swing state in the eastern half of the EU, this is the place to start. Kuisz not only offers vital historical background to today's tortured Polish politics, but also develops the illuminating concept of "post-traumatic sovereignty".'
    Timothy Garton Ash, author of Homelands: A Personal History of Europe

    'A masterful account of the birth of illiberal Poland. Jaroslaw Kuisz's analysis of "post-traumatic sovereignty" offers a novel and informative lens through which to understand the origins of the nation's troubled politics.'
    Yascha Mounk, author of The Great Experiment: Why Diverse Democracies Fall Apart and How They Can Endure

    'An essential book for anyone who wants to understand post-cold war Poland and today's political dynamics in Central Europe.'
    Sylvie Kauffmann, editor, Le Monde

    'For the most reliable, up-to-date survey of modern Polish politics, see Jaroslaw Kuisz's new book, The New Politics of Poland.'
    Tony Barber, The Financial Times

    Kuisz's book shows in detail what living under 21st-century nationalist populism is like - and what liberal opponents of these regimes in other countries must do to defeat them.'
    The Times

    'On its own terms Jaroslaw Kuisz's book is a superb study, offering an incisive portrait of PiS's politics over almost a decade in power against the background of Poland's turbulent history.'
    Stanley Bill, Times Literary Supplement

    'In The New Politics of Poland Jaroslaw Kuisz offers a competent and well-written account of the larger forces at work in PiS's ascent, but also seeks to place the supposed 'rise of illiberalism' in the context of Poland's longue durée. His book is also indirectly useful in displaying some of the failings of the liberal commentariat.'
    Jan-Werner Müller, London Review of Books

    'A ground-breaking study that puts Poland's populist turn in the larger context of the nation's history. This is essential reading on the geopolitics of Eastern Europe in a time of war and uncertainty.'
    Jörg Lau, Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Die Zeit

    'Kuisz is one of the most original and powerful voices coming from Poland.'
    Ivan Krastev, Chairman, Centre for Liberal Strategies

    'The Russian invasion of Ukraine has underlined Poland's geopolitical importance, but the country's democratic backsliding is a matter of concern. The new politics of Poland explains the numerous paradoxes of this fascinating country. Kuisz's important book is highly topical, revealing, nuanced and compelling.'
    Jan Zielonka, University of Oxford

    'Fundamental to understanding what the country has been and what might yet be.
    --P. W. Knoll, emeritus, University of Southern California
    Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers through faculty.'
    CHOICE (July 2024 Vol. 61 No. 11)

    '[Kuisz] analyzes the splendor and misery of Jaroslaw Kaczynski's PiS party from a bird's eye view.'
    Ulrich M. Schmid, Neue Zürcher Zeitung


    Introduction: what happened to Poland?
    Part I The birth of a monster: Poland after 2015
    1 Breakthrough? The 2015 elections
    2 The tsunami of populism
    3 True leaders of the nation: Law and Justice's continued popularity among citizens
    4 Toothless liberals? The current state of democratic opposition
    Part II A thirty years' war of words: reconstruction post-1989
    5 The Polish-Jewish relationship debate
    6 The economic transformation debate
    7 The never-ending de-communisation debate
    Part III A fractured identity: long-term challenges for Poland
    8 Sources of post-traumatic sovereignty
    9 Beyond the occupation mentality
    10 Post-traumatic sovereignty strikes back
    11 A kidnapped West in the European Union
    Conclusion: post-traumatic sovereignty and war


    Jaroslaw Kuisz is a writer, political analyst and editor-in-chief of the leading Polish political weekly Kultura Liberalna. He is the author of several books and has written for the Guardian, the New York Times and Le Monde.

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