One tragedy in Poland’s gathering constitutional crisis is that it reveals the degree to which the right-wing leaders there don’t get the basics of democracy. In openly defying a ruling of the Constitutional Tribunal, the Polish high court, the ruling Law and Justice Party effectively set itself above the law in its march to authoritarian rule, ignoring all appeals, warnings and formal opinions from the United States, the European Union, international human rights organizations and its own opposition.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the party’s leader and the power behind the government’s nationalist, conservative agenda, actually compared the foreign appeals to Soviet intervention of the Communist era. This crisis is evidence of Mr. Kaczynski’s illiberal view of democracy — shared with his friend, Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary — as license for a majority to ride roughshod over any institutional checks and balances, whether internal or inherent in E.U. membership.