The Maturation and Consolidation of Polish Democracy

Professor Anna Grzymala-Busse offers an optimistic commentary on yesterday’s horrible plane crash in which so many high-ranking Polish officials died:

One thing strikes me: this tragedy is also becoming a triumph of Polish democracy, in two ways. First, the political institutions worked: the army leadership has been immediately replaced, Komorowski is now President ex officio, new elections are being announced. There’s been no question of coups, colonels, or emergency measures. Second, the Polish elites, no matter what their political flavor, say the same thing: they may not have agreed with Kaczynski, but this is a vast tragedy. Personal animosities and political cleavages have been buried, at least for the time being. So both formally, and in spirit, Kaczynski’s death brings this new maturity into focus.

Seems like a fair point. The mere fact of Communism’s collapse in Central Europe did not by any means guarantee that the successor regimes would consolidate as liberal democracies—just look at Russia and the various Central Asian ‘stans. But in Poland and elsewhere in the region, the past 20 years have been an enormous success. In the first instance, this is a triumph by the Polish (and Czech and Hungarian and Latvian and atc.) people and elites. But it’s also an underrated policy success by the leadership of NATO and the EU.