Party Organisation of PiS in Poland: Between Electoral Rhetoric and Absolutist Practice

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

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Party Organisation of PiS in Poland: Between Electoral Rhetoric and Absolutist Practice


  • Bartek Pytlas Geschwister Scholl Institute of Political Science, LMU Munich, Germany


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Abstract:  The article analyses the organisation of the Law and Justice party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość [PiS]) in Poland. The case of PiS does not only allow us to explore the organisational features of a strongly institutionalized, incumbent party which uses populist radical right (PRR) politics. PiS, we argue, is also an ideal case to contrast what such parties might rhetorically declare and substantively do about their organisational features. Using party documents, press reports, quantitative data, and insights from the secondary literature based on interviews with activists, we evaluate the extent to which PiS has developed a mass-party-related organisation, and centralized its intra-party decision-making procedures. We find that while PiS made overtures to some aspects of mass-party-like organisation for electoral mobilization, the party remained reluctant to actively expand its membership numbers and put little effort into fostering the integration and social rootedness of its members through everyday intra-party activities. Furthermore, despite attempts to enact organisational reinvigoration, in practice PiS continued to revolve around strongly centralized structures and, in particular, the absolutist leadership style of the party’s long-time Chair Jarosław Kaczyński. The analysis contributes to assessing the variety and functions of organisational features and appeals within the comparative study of PRR parties. Most particularly, it invites further research into the still relatively under-researched interactions between PRR party organisation and active party communication.

Keywords:  Law and Justice; organisation; party politics; Poland; populism; radical right

Published:   24 November 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v9i4.4479


© Bartek Pytlas. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.