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The Unpredicted Rise of Populism: The Case of Poland


This article investigates the rise of populism in Poland, applying an interdisciplinary method, with political, social, and economic factors as the compound reason for the turn from liberalism towards populism. The methodology of the study is the exploratory analysis of research, historical materials on Poland's transition to capitalism, and calculation of the selected empirical data of household incomes, linked to election results, in the regional cross-section. The household economic condition was validated by a report on deprivation and the presented growth of households’ disposable income, exposing regional differences between the selected voivodeships. The populist party Law and Justice (PiS) won the two last elections, with the majority of votes in low-income regions, which proved the hypothesis that economic inequality, amplified by globalisation and transition disparities were the main reasons for populism's prevalence. The democratic backsliding has not changed party-political scenery for very long, which revealed that for the majority of Polish voters, economic upgrading counted more, despite the violation of democracy. Therefore, the advance of knowledge about measures to reduce the in-country socioeconomic disparities between regions has become more important.