Poland

This subproject investigates the meaning of conspiracy theories for right-wing populist parties and movements in Poland, focusing but not limiting its research to the currently governing Law and Justice (PiS) in relation to other political parties and movements such as Kukiz’15 and Solidarni 2010.

Founded in 2001, PiS has had varying degrees of popularity throughout the last two decades before it ascended to power in 2015 with an absolute majority, ruling the country ever since. The party has been connected not only to a problematic transformation of Poland’s political framework but also an increasingly polarized political atmosphere. A significant part of both the party’s recent popularity as well its growing interior and exterior political tensions with others has been attributed to its effective use of conspiracy theories thematizing various in- and out-groups in the public sphere. Although conspiracy theories, such as the Smolensk or the Round Table conspiracy theory, are presumed to have influenced the political development of Poland in the last years significantly, they remain systematically largely unexplored.

Basing its research on ethnographic methods, this project seeks to answer how, why, when and to what effects populist leaders in Poland employ conspiracist rhetoric, and how this has affected ordinary party and movement members in the past elections. Specific attention will be paid to events preceding the upcoming elections in 2023 where both online and offline fieldwork will be conducted to answer how right-wing populism and conspiracy theories are connected in Poland.