Poland is characterized by intense political, juridical, and cultural conflict since the coming to power of the Law and Justice party (Prawa i Sprawiedliwości) (PiS) at the end of 2015. Many observers understand the political and legal developments since 2015 as ‘backsliding’ and appear to regard the changes since 2015 as having ‘fallen from the sky’ (Wigura 2020: 13). In reality, however, it can be argued, as will be done in this chapter, that the radical changes and the attempts at institutionalizing the conservative political project of PiS have a much longer pedigree, which is closely related to the political and economic transformation of the early 1990s. In political and legal terms, a crucial dimension is that of the 1997 Constitution and of the constitutional politics around it. In this regard, the ongoing conflict over Poland’s constitution is of great relevance for socio-legal and socio-cultural studies, in that the Constitution can be understood as a core symbol in ongoing political conflict over the transformation process since 1989. Analysing the Polish case may hence teach us on the role of constitutions in transformation and democratization processes more generally, and in particular shed light on how constitutions are not merely defining the ‘rules of the game’ and limiting power, but themselves form the core symbolical framework within which, and about which, conflict and political struggle occurs. The chapter will start with a discussion of the different meta-dimensions – instrumental and symbolic – of constitutions, to subsequently discuss a more fine-grained range of constitutional functions.In the second half of the chapter, the Polish Constitution of 1997 will be discussed in symbolical terms, to be followed by a discussion of the intense political conflicts around the Constitution’s adoption in the mid-1990s, the role of the alternative Citizens’ Constitution, to end with a brief discussion of the on-going role of meta-politics (cf. Stanley and Bill 2020), with the 1997 Constitution at its heart, since 2015.

The Constitution as a Symbol

Paul Blokker
2021

Abstract

Poland is characterized by intense political, juridical, and cultural conflict since the coming to power of the Law and Justice party (Prawa i Sprawiedliwości) (PiS) at the end of 2015. Many observers understand the political and legal developments since 2015 as ‘backsliding’ and appear to regard the changes since 2015 as having ‘fallen from the sky’ (Wigura 2020: 13). In reality, however, it can be argued, as will be done in this chapter, that the radical changes and the attempts at institutionalizing the conservative political project of PiS have a much longer pedigree, which is closely related to the political and economic transformation of the early 1990s. In political and legal terms, a crucial dimension is that of the 1997 Constitution and of the constitutional politics around it. In this regard, the ongoing conflict over Poland’s constitution is of great relevance for socio-legal and socio-cultural studies, in that the Constitution can be understood as a core symbol in ongoing political conflict over the transformation process since 1989. Analysing the Polish case may hence teach us on the role of constitutions in transformation and democratization processes more generally, and in particular shed light on how constitutions are not merely defining the ‘rules of the game’ and limiting power, but themselves form the core symbolical framework within which, and about which, conflict and political struggle occurs. The chapter will start with a discussion of the different meta-dimensions – instrumental and symbolic – of constitutions, to subsequently discuss a more fine-grained range of constitutional functions.In the second half of the chapter, the Polish Constitution of 1997 will be discussed in symbolical terms, to be followed by a discussion of the intense political conflicts around the Constitution’s adoption in the mid-1990s, the role of the alternative Citizens’ Constitution, to end with a brief discussion of the on-going role of meta-politics (cf. Stanley and Bill 2020), with the 1997 Constitution at its heart, since 2015.
Politics of Symbolization Across Central and Eastern Europe
1
21
Paul Blokker
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/810558
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