Wojciech Sadurski (University of Sydney and University of Warsaw), gives the 2019 Leszek Kołakowski Lecture.
The speed and depth of anti-democratic and illiberal transformations in Poland post-2015 took many observers by surprise; until then, Poland was regarded as an example of a successful transitional democracy. In his Lecture, based partly on his recently published book Poland’s Constitutional Breakdown (OUP 2019), Professor Sadurski will address the nature and causes of these changes, focusing on their anti-constitutional character. He will show how the ruling party has dismantled the major checks and balances of the Polish state, and subordinated the courts, the civil service and even the electoral system to the will of the party leader. The lecture will be organised around three main questions: What, exactly, has happened in Poland since 2015, and how it aligns with the worldwide democratic decay? Why did it happen, and what are Polish distinctive causes of the illiberal turn? And what are the prospects for restoration of rights-respecting constitutional democracy?