Political Scientists’ Public Involvement and the Meanings of Democratic Education: Critical Questions from Poland
By Piotr Forecki, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań and Marcin Starnawski, University of Lower Silesia
The populist wave has not spared Poland. Since 2015, the United Right coalition, under the Law and Justice (PiS) party leadership, has subjugated key state institutions. It targeted the judiciary, media, and education system (Cervinkova and Rudnicki 2019). This can be perceived as an attempt at not only taking over key governmental positions but also shifting the political culture toward illiberal democracy—or even a soft authoritarianism with a significant conservative outlook (Bonet and Zamorano 2020; Hidalgo 2019; Markowski 2019; Nyyssönen and Jussi Metsälä 2020; Sajó 2019; Szczepański and Kalina 2019). Whereas responses came from various dissenting civil-society actors, including academics, the voice of political scientists as an organized community has been weak. Individual expert commentators provide critical analyses; however, compared to other social sciences, political science organizations contributed little in defense of democratic values. In this Spotlight, we explore political scientists’ public engagement and link it to the question of political science’s role in fostering democratic education in both academia and society at large. We begin with a brief history of the right-wing populist rule in Poland.