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Postal ballot in unconsolidated democracy: Poland's case

Postal ballot in unconsolidated democracy: Poland's case As the democratic world debates and in some cases replaces physical voting with postal ballots and on-line voting, it is important to refrain from advocating a generic approach to the issue and in particular to distinguish between consolidated and unconsolidated democracies.Design/methodology/approachThe paper argues that unconsolidated democracies are not fit for the introduction of non-physical (postal ballot and on-line) voting methods, which rather than broadening the scope of democracy may in actual fact be derailing it. The key reason for this distinction is the lack of political consensus for constitutional rules, the weakness of the rule of law and persistence of parochial and subject-based political cultures in many countries of the region, including Poland.FindingsReplacing physical voting with postal ballot, attempted during Presidential elections in the summer 2020 in Poland, eventually failed and was replaced with conventional physical vote. However, the Polish case demonstrates that in the system with weak checks and balances, postal ballot could be used to consolidate illiberalism not democracy.Research limitations/implicationsThe paper demonstrates that further research on defining consolidated and unconsolidated democracy is needed. In particular there is a need to factor in the research on political culture into the definitions of democratic consolidation.Practical implicationsEU membership for Poland and some other Central European states – such as Hungary – failed to prompt the process of democratic consolidation. In fact the opposite happened as the impact of EU conditionality lost relevance. It is important that any change of electoral law in Poland and other rule of law violators in the region is viewed with great care and scrutiny.Originality/valueThe paper’s conceptual approach rests on the definition of consolidated democracy as put forward by Przeworski (1991) and developed by Linz and Stepan (1996). According to these definitions, Poland is not yet a consolidated democracy and as argued in the paper, it has actually experienced an expansion of illiberalism in recent years. The paper also posits that the concept of “consolidated democracy” should be augmented to include the existence of civic political culture as a necessary condition for the maintenance of a healthy democracy. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy Emerald Publishing

Postal ballot in unconsolidated democracy: Poland's case

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
1750-6166
eISSN
1750-6166
DOI
10.1108/tg-09-2020-0278
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

As the democratic world debates and in some cases replaces physical voting with postal ballots and on-line voting, it is important to refrain from advocating a generic approach to the issue and in particular to distinguish between consolidated and unconsolidated democracies.Design/methodology/approachThe paper argues that unconsolidated democracies are not fit for the introduction of non-physical (postal ballot and on-line) voting methods, which rather than broadening the scope of democracy may in actual fact be derailing it. The key reason for this distinction is the lack of political consensus for constitutional rules, the weakness of the rule of law and persistence of parochial and subject-based political cultures in many countries of the region, including Poland.FindingsReplacing physical voting with postal ballot, attempted during Presidential elections in the summer 2020 in Poland, eventually failed and was replaced with conventional physical vote. However, the Polish case demonstrates that in the system with weak checks and balances, postal ballot could be used to consolidate illiberalism not democracy.Research limitations/implicationsThe paper demonstrates that further research on defining consolidated and unconsolidated democracy is needed. In particular there is a need to factor in the research on political culture into the definitions of democratic consolidation.Practical implicationsEU membership for Poland and some other Central European states – such as Hungary – failed to prompt the process of democratic consolidation. In fact the opposite happened as the impact of EU conditionality lost relevance. It is important that any change of electoral law in Poland and other rule of law violators in the region is viewed with great care and scrutiny.Originality/valueThe paper’s conceptual approach rests on the definition of consolidated democracy as put forward by Przeworski (1991) and developed by Linz and Stepan (1996). According to these definitions, Poland is not yet a consolidated democracy and as argued in the paper, it has actually experienced an expansion of illiberalism in recent years. The paper also posits that the concept of “consolidated democracy” should be augmented to include the existence of civic political culture as a necessary condition for the maintenance of a healthy democracy.

Journal

Transforming Government: People, Process and PolicyEmerald Publishing

Published: Jul 14, 2021

Keywords: Democracy; Poland; American election; Illiberalism; Postal ballot; Unconsolidated democracy

References