Voting out Autocratic Governments: Lessons from Poland

Social Sciences Research Building, Tea Room (201), 1126 E. 59th St.

The Chicago Center on Democracy and the Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies invite you to a conversation about the implications of the recent Polish parliamentary elections. The panelists include:

  • Scott Gehlbach, Elise and Jack Lipsey Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago
  • Zhaotian Luo, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago
  • Monika Nalepa, Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago
  • Konstantin Sonin, John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy
  • Susan Stokes, Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago (Moderator)

In the Polish parliamentary election on October 15, 2023, the ruling PiS party (generally considered a populist, democratic backsliding party) won the largest share of votes, but even if it forms an alliance with the ideologically closest Konfederacia party, it will fall short of securing a majority in the legislature. The panel will focus on what this outcome means for the country, but also what it might indicate about the possibilities for voting out autocratic-leaning governments in other countries.

This election raises additional questions about how the term "autocratic" should be used to describe governments. Is it appropriate to label a party as autocratic if it peacefully cedes control after losing an election?

Furthermore, the panel will address the phenomenon of high youth support for nationalist rhetoric. It aims to explore why the electorate shifted away from PiS, how these voters were mobilized, and the reasons behind the disenchantment of some previously loyal voters.

Hybrid event! Register online for in-person or zoom.