Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Poland has been a key player in Western efforts to support Kyiv’s resistance. However, years of democratic backsliding under governments led by the right-wing populist Law and Justice (PiS) party, growing tensions with the European Union, and a recent spat with Ukraine over agricultural imports complicate Warsaw’s role. Meanwhile, elections in neighboring Slovakia on September 30 resulted in a win for the pro-Russian Smer (Direction) party, led by former Prime Minister Robert Fico.
With rising influence on the continent and the potential to become a major power in Europe, Poland’s elections on October 15 — in which the PiS is challenged by the return to domestic politics of former European Council President Donald Tusk and the emergence of the far-right Konfederacja (Confederation) party — could be consequential for the future of European politics and the Euro-Atlantic security order.
On October 12, the Center on the United States and Europe held a webinar with a panel of experts to unpack the complicated politics of the Polish elections, the direction of democracy in Central Europe more broadly, and implications for the United States, EU, Ukraine, and trans-Atlantic security.
Viewers submitted questions via Twitter using #USEurope and by emailing email@example.com.