The Twilight of EU Liberalism: The 2015 Migration Crisis and the Turn to the Right in Contemporary Poland

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Title: The Twilight of EU Liberalism: The 2015 Migration Crisis and the Turn to the Right in Contemporary Poland
Authors: Karolinczak, Kamila
Date: 2019
Abstract: The 2015 migration crisis left reverberating effects on the continent of Europe. In order to manage the influx of refugees arriving in Europe, the European Union (EU) attempted to impose refugee quotas on EU member states. During this process, the EU found many Eastern European states to be uncooperative and unwilling to receive refugees. Poland, in the midst of a national election in 2015, reacted to the migration crisis by electing the right-wing ethno-nationalist Law and Justice party. Law and Justice’s xenophobic rhetoric about protecting the Polish nation and its values from foreign influence were crucial in its landslide win. The party appealed to strong historical and emotional narratives about preserving and protecting Poland’s traditional values and national identity from outside influences. When Law and Justice subsequently won the national elections, it shifted the entire country to the Right, and further away from the normative liberal values associated with the project of EU expansion. Considering that Poland was once an exemplary case of a successful postsocialist transition to an EU member state, how did such a large portion of its population come to embrace Law and Justice’s xenophobic and nationalist agenda? This research paper argues that this rise of xenophobic sentiment in Poland exemplified in Law and Justice Party’s electoral victory, points to the growing disillusionment with the European Union specifically, and liberalism as a political project more broadly. I show how the dominance of EU liberalism as a key political project in Poland was eroded not only by the 2015 migration crisis, but by longstanding fears associated with loss of political autonomy and especially traditionally-conceived Polish identity.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/39964
CollectionDIM - Mémoires // IDGS - Research Papers
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Major Research Paper - Kamila Karolinczak (300000063).docxThe 2015 migration crisis left reverberating effects on the continent of Europe. In order to manage the influx of refugees arriving in Europe, the European Union (EU) attempted to impose refugee quotas on EU member states. During this process, the EU found many Eastern European states to be uncooperative and unwilling to receive refugees. Poland, in the midst of a national election in 2015, reacted to the migration crisis by electing the right-wing ethno-nationalist Law and Justice party. Law and Justice’s xenophobic rhetoric about protecting the Polish nation and its values from foreign influence were crucial in its landslide win. The party appealed to strong historical and emotional narratives about preserving and protecting Poland’s traditional values and national identity from outside influences. When Law and Justice subsequently won the national elections, it shifted the entire country to the Right, and further away from the normative liberal values associated with the project of EU expansion. Considering that Poland was once an exemplary case of a successful postsocialist transition to an EU member state, how did such a large portion of its population come to embrace Law and Justice’s xenophobic and nationalist agenda? This research paper argues that this rise of xenophobic sentiment in Poland exemplified in Law and Justice Party’s electoral victory, points to the growing disillusionment with the European Union specifically, and liberalism as a political project more broadly. I show how the dominance of EU liberalism as a key political project in Poland was eroded not only by the 2015 migration crisis, but by longstanding fears associated with loss of political autonomy and especially traditionally-conceived Polish identity124.87 kBMicrosoft Word XMLOpen