As Poland’s parliamentary election approaches, a concerning trend has emerged. The far-right party, Konfederacja, with its current polling at 8-12%, is aggressively targeting the young electorate. While they champion economic liberal ideas like ‘economic freedom’ and ‘simple, low taxes,’ they conveniently sidestep the importance of ideological freedom.
Their leader, Sławomir Mentzen, a prominent figure on TikTok, appeals to young individuals, especially men, drawn to the world of entrepreneurship. This newfound culture of young, driven entrepreneurs has flourished on social media, and Mr. Mentzen has effectively capitalized on it in Poland.
However, their promises are wrapped in manipulative and oversimplified language. They fail to address the societal consequences and costs of their radical proposals. While advocating for minimal state intervention in the economy, they paradoxically advocate for interference in the personal freedoms of citizens.
But what is their vision of freedom?
Konfederacja promotes extreme nationalist views, maintains a strong Eurosceptic stance, and even flirts with the idea of Poland’s exit from the EU (PolExit). They oppose sending military aid to Ukraine as well as reject Ukraine’s NATO membership, sympathizing with Russia. Konfederacja also opposes LGBT+ rights and women’s rights. The party has been a strong advocate against the right to abortion and divorce, all while adopting a conservative and religious stance. These positions directly contradict the principles of individual liberty.
So, what does all this mean for Polish liberals?
There is a grave concern that the Polish public might confuse true liberalism with the flawed version presented by Konfederacja. If this party were to sit in government, it could damage the genuine liberal image by hiding its far-right ideology behind a facade of economic liberalism. Konfederacja seeks to promote the free market and entrepreneurship.
But it is important to remember that true freedom cannot exist without individual freedom. If Konfederacja becomes part of a new government, not only would it undertake controversial actions in the name of liberalism and jeopardize any progress in Poland, but it could also damage the credibility of liberalism itself. This, in turn, could hinder genuine liberal movements from earning the trust and support of the Polish people.