May. 16, 2024 |

The end of Law & Justice. The European Commission announced on May 6 that it would drop sanctions proceedings against the European Union member state Poland. The sanctions were to target what the Commission saw as ongoing violations of democratic principles—including repeated efforts to control Poland’s independent judiciary.

Until the national elections of October, Poland was governed for eight years by the populist-right Law & Justice party. The new government, however, has enacted rules to eliminate political meddling in the appointment of judges to the country’s highest courts—or leveling disciplinary action against sitting judges for following EU laws.

Last November, shortly after Law & Justice was defeated, Ivan Krastev explored the causes of the party’s downfall—and the Polish opposition’s surprising victory. A key factor, Krastev says, is that Law & Justice, in power with the support of the country’s conservative majority, had begun to take their party’s views to extremes a broader majority of Polish voters rejected—creating a liberalizing political backlash and unprecedented support for the opposition’s relatively progressive policy agenda. It’s a curious case in Europe, cutting against the continent’s political trend to the right.