Europe’s Chance to Finish Off Illiberal Democracy
Recent elections in Poland and Slovakia offer valuable lessons for pro-democratic movements challenging populist regimes across Europe. Whereas the Polish opposition parties managed to unite around a common cause, Slovakian centrists failed to connect with rural voters, older voters, and those disillusioned with the status quo.
BRATISLAVA – The results of the recent elections in Poland and Slovakia underscore the two countries’ diverging political trajectories. In Poland, the democratic opposition won enough parliamentary seats to oust the increasingly authoritarian Law and Justice (PiS) party. While Polish President Andrzej Duda gave PiS Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki the first shot at forming a government, the opposition parties have already announced a coalition deal.
Meanwhile, in Slovakia, the left-populist party Smer-Social Democracy, led by former Prime Minister Robert Fico, eked out a narrow victory, setting the stage for a possible return to kleptocratic rule.
Both elections generated record-high turnout. In Poland, nearly 73% of eligible voters cast ballots – the highest rate since the fall of communism. Slovakia’s turnout, at 68.5%, was the country’s highest since 1998.
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