With growing distrust on both sides of the German-Polish border, a new rapprochement seems urgently neededst balance of power, it will have a significant impact on Polish political culture.
The twentieth century proved cruel for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), not only as a scene of brutal war conflicts but also letting it fall prey to totalitarian regimes. In fact, only recently has a sense of historical justice been brought to these lands thanks to joining the European Union (EU). Those who assumed, however, that this would be the end of history were wrong. The last decade indicates that the EU is an incomplete project, still more of a forming process than a final product. Doubts inflicted by the Euro debt crisis were augmented by mismanaged migration inflows to the EU. Voices of mistrust have arisen, bringing Eurosceptics popularity.
Next month, EU citizens will again cast their ballots to elect their representatives to the European Parliament. This year’s elections have so far received special attention due to the far-from-normal political circumstances. Over the last few years, rising Euroskepticism has grown and it is clear a lot is at stake in May. It is difficult to precisely predict the outcome, but it is clear that there are some tendencies that can significantly affect the results.
Poland and Hungary tend to be paired up when discussing the political crisis of the European Union (EU). The reason is the emergence of so-called “illiberal democracies” in these eastern member states, which do not comply with some of the founding values of the EU. Viktor Orbán seized power in Hungary in 2010, and he’s just won the elections for the third term. In Poland, the Law and Justice party (PiS) has taken over after winning parliamentary elections in late 2015. Shortly after, in the Krynica Forum in October 2016 both party leaders, Jarosław Kaczyński and Viktor Orbán, announced they would stand together for “cultural counter-revolution” and renewal of the post-Brexit EU. So, how long will it last?
The Visegrád Group (V4) has lately been in the European spotlight. This once peripheral, regional alliance suddenly proved capable of single-cause impromptu mobilisation within the EU framework. In times of the European “polycrisis”, when the European community is facing a profound lack of agreement on which principles it should follow, questions emerge on how sustainable this alliance is and how it can affect the European Union (EU). What future scenario for the V4 would we wish for?
The Visegrád Group (V4) has lately been in the European spotlight. This once peripheral, regional alliance suddenly proved capable of single-cause impromptu mobilisation within the EU-framework. In the middle of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ it actively resisted the European Commission on relocation quotas. How sustainable is this new capacity and how can it affect the European Union? The opportunity to tackle these questions presents itself again due to the emerging debate on European social and labour policies.
The refugee crisis has exposed cracks in the EU’s political foundations. Failure to agree over how to implement refugee quotas and inability to coordinate humanitarian actions has allowed Eurosceptics to vaunt their populist talents. Information chaos has wreaked havoc in Europe, radicalising public opinion. The Right joined forces, holding a hard line on immigration policy while appeals for solidarity and common action crashed against the opposition of the Visegrad countries – two of them run by ‘social democrats’. Thus, the refugee crisis has also exposed the crisis of the European left and its internal axiological incoherence.
Last Sunday’s election results left some Poles devastated, but others seem to be if not hopeful, then relieved. The massive victory of the conservative Law and Justice party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) defeating Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska – PO) was, however, not a political earthquake, but rather a self-fulfilling prophecy that finally came true. Perhaps it also is a manifestation of a deeper change within Polish society. The question is if this will turn to good account for Poland – and for Europe, too.