A Political Gamble On Tragedy

What Does the Crisis On the Border With Belarus Mean For Polish Domestic Politics and For Its European Policy?

19 November 2021

Wojciech Przybylski


No matter how many ways Polish allies of Viktor Orban try to imitate his tactics, it always turns out at best ineffective and often outright counterproductive. The same happens when Warsaw has tried to reproduce Hungarian narratives and strategies about border protection. At first, it looked as if the government could consolidate power by flexing xenophobic muscles, but eventually, it lacked the innovative momentum and consistency in communication to score precious points in public opinion polls this way.

There are both tactical and systemic differences that prevent such replications and lead to considerably different outcomes. As the situation is currently unfolding, it seems that PiS will have no other option but to reduce conflicts with the EU and adapt its policies to the blocks’ principles unless it wants to be left alone in a security vacuum on the border. Early in 2018, we have explained such a scenario in relation to a potential migration crisis on the Polish-Belarus border.

Communication: a Fiasco

Some say that Poland under communism was the merriest camp in the block for the reason that it has been so bad in implementing authoritarian methods by others, like Moscow or Beijing.

Similarly today, despite the imposition of a constitutionally provisioned state of emergency in the border area, the PiS party seems to be hardly in control of the situation where an autocrat from the other side of the border fence has held the political communication initiative for most of the time.


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Wojciech Przybylski


Political analyst heading Visegrad Insight's policy foresight on European affairs. His expertise includes foreign policy and political culture. Editor-in-Chief of Visegrad Insight and President of the Res Publica Foundation. Europe's Future Fellow at IWM - Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna and Erste Foundation. Wojciech also co-authored a book 'Understanding Central Europe’, Routledge 2017. He has been published in Foreign Policy, Politico Europe, Journal of Democracy, EUObserver, Project Syndicate, VoxEurop, Hospodarske noviny, Internazionale, Zeit, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, Onet, Gazeta Wyborcza and regularly appears in BBC, Al Jazeera Europe, Euronews, TRT World, TVN24, TOK FM, Swedish Radio and others.


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