Aleks Szczerbiak

Who really won Poland’s local elections?

Poland held local elections on 21 October, followed by a second round of voting on 4 November. The elections were billed as a key test for the country’s Law and Justice government. As Aleks Szczerbiak explains, the liberal-centrist opposition mobilised its core supporters in urban areas, winning high profile mayoral races, but Law and Justice won the more politically […]

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Why do Poland’s local elections matter?

Poland is set to hold local elections, with the first round of voting taking place on 21 October, followed by a second round of voting on 4 November. Aleks Szczerbiak writes that the elections will be an important test of popularity for Poland’s government and opposition parties. Although the governing Law and Justice party is currently riding high in […]

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    How is the conflict over judicial reforms affecting Polish politics?

How is the conflict over judicial reforms affecting Polish politics?

Controversy surrounding the Polish government’s judicial reform programme has undermined its strategy of pivoting to the centre in the run-up to the country’s next parliamentary and presidential elections. But as Aleks Szczerbiak writes, in spite of misgivings about the reforms, the ruling party is in tune with Poles on the social and economic issues they care most about, and the opposition has so far […]

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    What are the prospects for Poland’s rock star-politician Paweł Kukiz?

What are the prospects for Poland’s rock star-politician Paweł Kukiz?

Although Polish rock star-politician Paweł Kukiz’s political grouping is an unstable construct, lacking organisational and programmatic coherence, it remains the Polish government’s only potential coalition partner and could still emerge as king-maker after the country’s next parliamentary election. Aleks Szczerbiak explains that the key to its survival and future success is still Mr Kukiz’s continued credibility as an ‘anti-system’ […]

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What are the prospects for the Polish left?

Poland’s communist successor party has seen its opinion poll ratings increase in recent months. This upturn in support came after the revival of debates about the country’s communist past prompted by government legislation affecting the interests of its core electorate. But as Aleks Szczerbiak writes, the party’s leadership has failed to develop any new ideas or initiatives that can […]

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Are the Polish opposition’s prospects really so hopeless?

Poland’s liberal and centrist opposition has struggled to challenge the country’s Law and Justice government since losing the 2015 Polish election. Aleks Szczerbiak writes that the opposition lacks convincing leadership and has failed to offer a credible and attractive alternative to Poles on the issues that they care most about. But the right-wing ruling party will go into local […]

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    The political significance of Poland’s government reshuffle

The political significance of Poland’s government reshuffle

A sweeping reshuffle by Poland’s new prime minister has changed the shape and direction of its government, with a greater emphasis being placed on economic modernisation, political stabilisation and improving EU relations. But as Aleks Szczerbiak writes, this pivot to the technocratic centre risks alienating the ruling party’s core electorate, and is more about packaging the government’s reforms attractively than abandoning […]

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    How will the European Commission triggering Article 7 affect Polish politics?

How will the European Commission triggering Article 7 affect Polish politics?

Last month Poland became the first EU member state to have an Article 7 rule of law procedure launched against it. Aleks Szczerbiak writes that while sanctions appear extremely unlikely, the domestic political impact will depend on whether Poles accept the opposition’s argument that the government is isolating Poland internationally, or the ruling party’s claim that it is defending […]

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How will a Morawiecki premiership change Polish politics?

Mateusz Morawiecki has been appointed the new Polish prime minister, replacing Beata Szydło, but what will his appointment mean for Poland’s relationship with the EU at a time when tensions are rising over the country’s judicial reforms? Aleks Szczerbiak states that by appointing a respected former banker as prime minister, Poland’s ruling party is hoping to re-focus the government’s priorities […]

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    Can Donald Tusk save Poland’s weak and divided opposition? 

Can Donald Tusk save Poland’s weak and divided opposition? 

A scathing Twitter attack on the Polish government has fuelled speculation that European Council President, Donald Tusk, is planning a return to Polish politics to head up the country’s struggling opposition. Aleks Szczerbiak writes that although he remains a dangerous opponent for the ruling party, making a successful comeback would be a long and arduous process, and pinning its […]

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    Explaining the popularity of Poland’s Law and Justice government

Explaining the popularity of Poland’s Law and Justice government

Despite coming under heavy criticism from its political opponents for allegedly undermining democracy and the rule of law, the popularity of Poland’s Law and Justice government remains at record levels. Aleks Szczerbiak writes that the government has delivered on its high-profile social spending pledges, strongly opposed the EU’s unpopular migrant relocation scheme, and many Poles feel that it deserves […]

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Should the EU be concerned about a possible ‘Polexit’?

The Polish government has come into conflict with the EU’s institutions on several fronts, notably over judicial reforms and the relocation of refugees during the migration crisis. Aleks Szczerbiak explains that although opponents of the government accuse it of undermining the country’s ties with the EU, its supporters argue that the ruling party is committed to defending national interests […]

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    How is the European migration crisis affecting Polish politics?

How is the European migration crisis affecting Polish politics?

The migration crisis has recently re-surfaced as a major issue in Poland, as its right-wing government came under pressure from the European Commission to comply with the EU’s relocation scheme. Aleks Szczerbiak argues that most Poles are keen to avoid the problems they feel West European countries have experienced through admitting large numbers of migrants. With the opposition uncertain how to respond, […]

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    How has Brexit, and other EU crises, affected party Euroscepticism across Europe?

How has Brexit, and other EU crises, affected party Euroscepticism across Europe?

Analysing the results of a new expert survey, Aleks Szczerbiak and Paul Taggart write that Brexit has so far had a very limited impact on national party politics across Europe beyond the UK, particularly compared with the earlier Eurozone and migration crisis. While the longer-term, dynamic effects of Brexit on party Euroscepticism might be greater and there are a […]

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    Is Poland’s Civic Platform a serious threat to the ruling party?

Is Poland’s Civic Platform a serious threat to the ruling party?

Poland’s main opposition grouping, the Civic Platform, appears to have seen off its challengers and be drawing level with the ruling party in the polls. Aleks Szczerbiak argues that underestimating the opposition would be a serious mistake for the governing party. However, for many Poles the Civic Platform remains associated with the previous, discredited administration and does not yet […]

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How will Poland approach the Brexit negotiations?

Brexit means that Poland’s right-wing government is losing its most important EU ally and the opposition warns that the country could end up marginalised on the European periphery, writes Aleks Szczerbiak. But the government argues that Warsaw is a leader in debates on the EU’s future and is calling for a re-think of the trajectory of the European project. […]

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    Poland’s parliamentary crisis could reach a tipping point by mid-January

Poland’s parliamentary crisis could reach a tipping point by mid-January

An occupation of the main legislative chamber and street demonstrations at the end of December, prompted by the exclusion of an opposition deputy following his protest against new parliamentary media rules, has precipitated a major political crisis in Poland. Aleks Szczerbiak writes that although the government has withdrawn its planned media regulations, the sit-in continued throughout Christmas with the […]

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Is Poland’s Law and Justice government losing momentum?

Although plunged immediately into a constitutional crisis that brought it into conflict with the European Commission, one year after its decisive parliamentary election victory Poland’s right-wing ruling party retains widespread support, in spite of coming again under fire over appointments to state-run companies and the abortion issue. Aleks Szczerbiak argues that the government’s fate will ultimately depend upon its […]

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    Hard choices and few soft options: The implications of Brexit for Euroscepticism across Europe

Hard choices and few soft options: The implications of Brexit for Euroscepticism across Europe

While much of the discussion surrounding Brexit has focused on the potential impact on the UK, the result of the EU referendum also has clear implications for Eurosceptic movements elsewhere in Europe. Aleks Szczerbiak and Paul Taggart argue that Brexit has made ‘Hard Euroscepticism’ a more viable political project for Eurosceptic parties, necessitating a rethink of how we conceptualise […]

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    Poland’s ruling party blames EU elites for Brexit and calls for Donald Tusk’s resignation

Poland’s ruling party blames EU elites for Brexit and calls for Donald Tusk’s resignation

The UK’s decision to leave the EU is expected to have an impact not only on British domestic politics, but on politics across Europe. Aleks Szczerbiak writes that Poland’s government, for whom Brexit means the loss of its main EU ally, blames the crisis on over-reach by the Union’s political elites, while the liberal and centrist opposition has argued that […]

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