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Poland’s unique geopolitical climate and domestic factors make for an interesting case of far-right momentum.  Poland’s Freedom and Justice Party, or the PiS, currently dominates the country’s political life, having received 8 million votes in 2019- an increase of 40% from its share in 2015.[1] The PiS has taken several steps toward a less democratic Poland, most notoriously with its Supreme Court overhaul which forced around one third of Justices to retire and be replaced by Party appointees.[2]  The PiS has passed bold legislation in defense of ‘traditional Christian values’ against what Party leader Jarosław Kaczyński has called a “dangerous ideological offensive,” referring to a broad range of perceived enemies: liberal elites, Jews, an influx of migrants and refugees, and LGBTQ Poles.[3]  They have stoked fear about ethnic and cultural ‘replacement,’ and encouraged Polish families to have several children to counteract this perceived threat by giving a stipend of 500 zlotys (about $130) a month to families for every child they have.[4]  However, it would be inaccurate to call the PiS a fascist or radical right, because they have not attempted to obtain power or enact legislation outside the bounds of democracy.  When the European Court of Justice ordered the PiS to suspend its judicial overhaul in October, the Party complied with minimal resistance. “We are fulfilling our obligations,” Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro told parliament.[5]  While the PiS did cooperate with this direct order from the EU, the Party is generally very Euroskeptic and has aligned with Hungary’s Viktor Orban and his far-right Fidesz Party in its anti-EU sentiment.[6]

            While the PiS has not crossed the threshold of all-out fascism, there are several smaller political parties in Poland which are much closer to meeting that definition.  The Obóz Naradowo-Radaykalny (ONR) was founded in 1934 and was modeled on Italian fascism, espousing deeply anti-Semitic views and committing acts of terrorism while Poland was under Soviet rule.[7]  The ONR was banned by the government shortly after its founding for its radical and dangerous actions.  However, the group is still active today, organizing nationalist marches with its members in trademark green armbands and military-style uniforms.[8]  It is important to note that since the PiS has been in power, the police have not taken action against such marches.[9]  The most significant other far-right party in Poland is the Konfederajca (Confederation), which is a coalition of several small far-right parties such as Korwin, Ruch Narodowy, and the Confederation of the Polish Crown (KKP).[10]  They were able to pick up several seats in last month’s parliamentary election, despite some extreme views such as the KKP’s nostalgia for monarchy and Ruch Narodowy’s radical anti-EU stance.[11]  Poland’s far-right parties tend not to look for global connection because they are devoutly nationalist and have historically been conquered and exploited by Russia and Germany.  The main source of international solidarity that they feel is with Hungary, with PiS leader Jeroslaw Kaczyński openly aiming to mimic the “illiberal democracy” that Viktor Orban has established in his country.[12]

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