New Wave of Right-Wing Polish Nationalism Concerns EU
As Poland celebrated its Independence Day on November 11, an estimated crowd of 100,000 thronged in the streets of Warsaw, but there is concern among Poland’s EU neighbors that the patriotic occasion has been overshadowed by right-wing nationalist and even fascist groups.
Brussels is clearly concerned over the new current in Polish politics, and Poland was the only nation to vote against the reelection of Donald Tusk as EU Commissioner. The rise of right-wing nationalism in Poland has been fueled by several factors including the refugee problem in the wake of the Syrian Civil War, a wave of terrorist attacks across Europe, and the eurozone crisis, which looks likely to imperil the spread of the euro throughout Eastern Europe.
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Marching under the banner “We Want God”, the rally alluded to an old Polish nationalist song that was quoted by Donald Trump on his recent visit to Poland. Poland remains a bastion of traditional Catholicism and its government has publicly stated that they will not take in Muslim refugees, putting it at odds with the EU, which has sought to transfer refugees through the region.
Beata Szydlo, Poland’s current prime minister, is a member of the right-wing Law and Justice Party, which holds majorities in both chambers of Congress, and has been accused of seeking to thwart democracy by undermining an independent judiciary. She recently expressed that she is “in favor of an EU where Christian traditions are not censorship,” placing Poland in a strange position in the world of staunchly secular European politics.
Some in the rally held signs proclaiming “Clean Blood”, “Pray for an Islamic Holocaust” and “White Europe,” and while the entire march can not be judged based on the presence of a few extremist groups, it is clear that Polish nationalism represents a new current of thought that is fundamentally at odds with prevailing sentiment in Brussels.
Fundamentally, Poland may prove to the world that a sovereign nation has the right to determine its own immigration policy, independently from the heavy hand of international bodies or Brussels.