Politics of memory

How many Poles hold nationalist views

Data 2017-01-03
Poles do not want Polish land to be sold to foreigners and are reluctant to employ them. One in three is prejudiced against Jewish people and the LGBT community.

Do you agree that:

Key points

Poles proud of their history, though feel hard done-by. Over three-quarters of respondents believe that the Polish nation has been wronged more often than other nations in the course of its history (CBOS). The opposite view is held by 14 per cent. At the same time, a similar number (74 per cent) believe that Poles can be proud of their history, because Poland has always behaved more honourably than other nations (one in five respondents do not agree with this view). Pride in being Polish has increased by 14 points in the last six years. Simultaneously, as many as 90 per cent of those polled said that they have never been ashamed of their nationality, or only been ashamed of it very seldom (this group has increased by 4 percentage points since 2010).

Economic patriots. Seventy-six per cent believe that Polish land should not be sold to foreigners - Poles have an emotional attitude to land and view foreigners buying it as a threat to the Polish identity. For this reason they could support solutions aimed at making it more difficult for foreigners to buy property in Poland. In addition, three-quarters of respondents believe that Poles should buy goods produced in Poland, as this supports domestic trade. There is increasing talk on the right about economic patriotism, with Klub Jagielloński promoting an app which, after scanning the bar code, shows "how Polish" a given product is.

Do you agree that:

One in three Poles is anti-Semitic and averse to gay people. There is a large group of Poles (between 30 and 40 per cent of those polled) who hold typical national democratic views - aversion to Jewish people and the belief that Catholicism is part of the essence of the Polish identity. Thirty-eight per cent think that a true Pole should be a Catholic, with 52 per cent holding the opposite view. In addition, 31 per cent believe that Jewish people have too much influence on Poland's affairs. Thirty-seven per cent disagree with this, while the remaining 32 per cent do not have an opinion. A similarly large group (37 per cent) say that being gay is not a normal thing and should not be tolerated: 48 per cent believe the opposite.

Immigrants taking Polish jobs. Poles are particularly afraid of land being bought out by foreigners, but the fear also concerns the labour market - 43 per cent think that employing foreigners increases unemployment in Poland. The fears probably concern mostly Ukrainians, who are the biggest group of economic migrants in Poland - according to our poll, half of those polled believe that Ukrainians take jobs away from Poles. One in three thinks that foreigners should be banned from settling in Poland permanently.  Poles are less radical when it comes to forming relationships with people of different nationalities - only one in ten say that Poles should not do so.

Do Poles want to take in refugees?


Averse to refugees. Studies carried out by CBOS since May 2015 on the attitude to taking in refugees show that Poles' opinions on this issue have radicalised. In mid-2015, one in five was opposed to taking in people from war-torn countries - currently, one in two are averse to the idea. Providing asylum for refugees for a given period of time was acceptable to 58 per cent of respondents - currently 38 per cent. There has been a particular increase in dislike of immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa (from 53 to 67 per cent). Aversion to refugees is fuelled by terrorist attacks in Europe, which intensify Poles' fear  - 59 per cent believe that there is a real terrorist threat, almost twice as many as in 2010.

what's next

Studies show that a nationalist party would have a potential in Poland. While only 7 per cent of Poles describe themselves as nationalists, 17 per cent support the activities of such groupings as the National Radical Camp or All-Polish Youth. An even larger number (30-40 per cent) shares national democratic views. At present, these voters are scattered and support different parties - from KORWiN, through the nationalists in Kukiz'15 and outside it, to PiS. A charismatic leader could focus the vote and create a party similar to Hungary's Jobbik. 

Juliusz Skibicki contributed to this analysis.

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Joanna Sawicka
Senior Analyst for Political Affairs
Joanna Sawicka
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