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Poland's Constitutional Breakdown


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Table of Contents

1: Anti-Constitutional Populist Backsliding 2: Before the Breakdown: 1989-2015 3: Dismantling of Checks and Balances (I): The Remaking of the Constitutional Tribunal 4: Dismantling Checks and Balances (II): Judges and Prosecutors 5: Undoing the Institutions of the Democratic State 6: Assault on Individual Rights 7: Why Did It Happen? 8: Europe to the Rescue 9: Illiberal Democracy or Populist Authoritarianism?

About the Author

Wojciech Sadurski is Challis Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Sydney and Professor at the University of Warsaw Centre for Europe. He has written extensively on the philosophy of law, political philosophy, and comparative constitutional law. His most recent books include Constitutionalism and the Enlargement of Europe (OUP 2012) and quality and Legitimacy (OUP 2008).


An indispensable look at the disheartening illiberal assault on democracy. Sadurski illuminates how Poland, once the great success story of the post-1989 new world order, has been brought to the brink of authoritarianism. Without tanks in the streets or dissidents imprisoned, Poland's legal institutions are being commandeered to crush the democratic opposition. This is the most careful account of how democracy is undermined from within, by the most insightful constitutional scholar on contemporary Eastern Europe. A must-read contribution. * Samuel Issacharoff, Bonnie and Richard Reiss Professor of Constitutional Law, New York University School of Law *
A magnificent achievement! Sadurski's close reading of the Polish case sheds light on many theoretical and empirical debates in the growing literature on democratic backsliding. As he shows, Poland calls into question many of our assumptions about both the rise and fall of democracy. Not quite yet an autopsy, this more like a stage-four diagnosis that will remind democrats of what needs to be defended. * Tom Ginsburg, Leo Spitz Professor of International Law, Ludwig and Hilde Wolf Research Scholar, Professor of Political Science, The University of Chicago *
Wojciech Sadurski has written the kind of legal thriller you might wish were fiction ... In just a few years, Poland has been transformed from a model state to a pariah and Sadurski's account shows how and why, in ethnographic and legal detail. Ever the legal theorist, Sadurski rises above the specificity of the case to offer general reflection, substantial analysis, and a series of important lessons we can learn from the collapse of a constitutional democracy. This book is a haunting cautionary tale of our populist moment. * Kim Lane Scheppele, Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs, Princeton University *

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