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BIPR | Poland and Slovakia Elect: What Next for Ukraine and European Democracy?
Poland and Slovakia Elect: What Next for Ukraine and European Democracy?

October 19, 2023 - 15:30

Balazs Jarabik - Monika Sus - Edit Zgut-Przybylska

Event Recap

Monika Sus gave a brief overview of the Polish elections, explaining that although the Law and Justice Party won in terms of seats, it will not be able to form a majority government and a coalition government of three opposition parties will most likely emerge instead. Sus recognized that it would not be an easy term for the opposition government due to three main reasons. Given the nature of the government, the parties in the coalition differ on various issues. Additionally, as prescribed in the Polish constitution, the president can veto legislation, and the government needs a 3/5ths majority to override the veto, which will be hard to achieve. The third reason is the polarization in society that will pose a challenge on some key issues.

Edit Zgut-Przybylska built upon Sus' analysis and added that the divisions within the opposition government will pose obstacles because although most of the parties are pro-EU, one of the parties in the Third Way alliance is more Euro-sceptic. Thus, it will be hard to coordinate among the different parties in parliament. Zgut-Przybylska also talked about the reforms and the fact that the government will have to focus on feasible strategic steps that do not require legislative actions and one such area to do so is foreign policy. Zgut-Przybylska is anticipating that Poland will be more critical of Orban's pro-Russian stance.

Balazs Jarabik reassured the audience that there are no far-right parties in the Slovak parliament even though some fringe far-right elements are indeed present. The panelist described Fico as a populist who opposes military aid to Ukraine, speaks of peace, and is, above all, pragmatic. Fico's main priority is to clear the law enforcement structure of everyone acting against him, and this would conflict with the European Commission under the rule of law conditionality.

Jarabik explained that the population of Slovakia used to be overwhelmingly supportive of Ukraine when the war first began, but because of the difficulties that many are experiencing as a result of the war like inflation and the energy crisis, the population is mostly interested in peace. Jarabik clarified that when Slovaks talk about peace, they are not supporting Russia, but rather want the war and the difficulties resulting from it to stop. Given that the Slovak media has been overwhelmingly supportive of Ukraine, Fico was able to attract parts of the population who felt frustrated about the lack of discourse in the media.

Sus explained that Polish society, on the other hand, sees Russia as a security threat and resonates with the right to self-determination of Ukraine. Poland is supportive of EU expansion, especially in regard to Ukraine ascension, but there is a clear mismatch between support for Ukraine and the reluctance to make reforms.

The seminar ended with a series of questions from the audience on topics ranging from legislation and media in Poland, factors that lead to Fico's victory, and potential parallels between Poland and Ukraine in relation to agricultural subsidies.

Poland and Slovakia Elect: What Next for Ukraine and European Democracy?

Supported by the Associazione di cultura e di studio italo-americana Luciano Finelli Friends of the Johns Hopkins University
hosted by Professor Veronica Anghel

Balazs Jarabik
Dexis Consulting Group
Monika Sus
Hertie School's Centre for International Security
Edit Zgut-Przybylska
Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN); CEU Democracy Institute

Balazs Jarabik is the Program Director of the Dexis Consulting Group

Monika Sus is a Visiting Professor at the Hertie School's Centre for International Security and associate professor at the Polish Academy of Sciences. At the Hertie School she leads the Horizon2020 project - ENGAGE: Envisioning a New Governance Architecture for a Global Europe. Between 2015 and 2019 she was Dahrendorf Postdoctoral Fellow and directed the Dahrendorf Foresight Project. In 2016–2017 she spent one year as Jean Monnet Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute in Florence where she remains affiliated. Monika has been granted several scholarships at the University of Leipzig, University of Montreal, and European Union Centre of Excellence at the University in Pittsburgh (among others). She published five books and several journal articles that appeared in International Affairs, Journal of Common Market Studies, Geopolitics, Contemporary Security Policy, Journal of European Integration, The British Journal of Politics, International Relationsas well as Futures: The journal of policy, planning and futures studies, and Global Policy. Her research interests lie primarily in international relations, particularly in the study of European Union´s foreign, security and defence policy and in the investigation of the institutional dynamics between the supranational and national level in EU's foreign policy making. She also works on bilateral cooperation between EU´s Member States in the field of foreign and security policy as well as on the application of foresight methods in IR.

Dr. Edit Zgut-Przybylska is an adjunct professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology (IFIS) in the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) and a visiting fellow at CEU Democracy Institute. She received her PhD in Sociology from GSSR at IFIS PAN. She is the Vice-Chair of Amnesty International Hungary and a visiting lecturer at the Foreign Service Institute of the US State Department. She previously worked at Political Capital Research Institute and prior to that, she was a journalist at various media outlets in Hungary. She holds an MA in Political Science from ELTE TÁTK and graduated as a journalist at Bálint György Journalism Academy. Her research interest covers informality and populism in the context of democratic backsliding and the constraining role of the European Union. She published in peer-reviewed journals like the European Politics and Society and the Hague Journal on the Rule of Law.
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