Annual Convention of the Association for the Study of Nationalities edition:13 location:Columbia University, New York date:10-12 April 2008
Under which conditions are mainstream political mobilizers in contemporary Central Europe likely to use nationalist framings in order to mobilize voters? This paper explores the case of Poland and argues that mainstream political parties have tended to frame their ideological preferences as “interests of the nation” primarily when they have been driven to do so by the patterns of action and reaction among political parties in a changing party system. This happened in 2005, when the Polish parliamentary elections brought nation-oriented political discourses to the center of the electoral campaign of the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party. In the run-up to the October 2007 elections, other mainstream parties and electoral committees such as the neo-liberal Civic Platform (PO) and the social democratic Left and Democrats (LiD) also began to rely on nationalist framings. The paper argues that traditional explanations for the resurgence of nationalist mobilization efforts in Poland, which regard such nationalism as an automatic political response to broad, culturally ingrained or spontaneously erupting concerns for ethnic homogeneity and geopolitical independence among the population, need to be qualified. The paper proposes an alternative, more nuanced reading. It contends that the choice of mainstream political actors to engage in nation-oriented mobilization campaigns is in large part shaped by the imperatives and constraints of domestic political competition and party politics.