In the Shadow of the Smolensk Catastrophe—The 2010 Presidential Election in Poland

Mikołaj Cześnik


​The tragic events of 10 April 2010 became one of the most important topics of publicdiscourse in Poland. They remain its central issue until today. This paper is an attemptto investigate one aspect of the phenomenon: the impact of the disaster and subsequentevents on the presidential election of 2010. It is based on the results of research carriedout within the Polish National Election Study (PNES) project. At least three reasonsmake it plausible that the Smolensk catastrophe had a great impact on Polish politics.Firstly, the disaster had legal and constitutional consequences; the sudden death of ahead of state always generates a number of specific actions, policy changes, and (mostimportantly from the perspective of this paper) determines the election calendar.Secondly, the disaster had psychological consequences; it caused a strong psychologicalshock for participants in the political process, which redefined political competition,public discourse, and the media coverage. Thirdly, narratives about the events precedingthe crash and following it quickly became an important element of Polish politics, especiallyin the media and in the electoral campaign. The main finding of the paper is thatthe Smolensk catastrophe did not produce a fundamental change in the political preferencesand voting patterns of Polish citizens. At both the aggregate and individual levelwe observe relative stability in voter turnout patterns and voting preferences. The paperalso finds that the catastrophe strengthened existing preferences and behavior patterns,and it petrified existing divisions. This paper is a study of voting behavior in extremesituations. It analyses a unique phenomenon—voting during a huge social trauma andright afterwards. Thus, in addition to the idiographic objective of the paper (explanationof voting behavior in the 2010 presidential election in Poland), it also has a nomotheticaspect, because it contributes to the theoretical discussions about voting behavior intraumatic, exceptional situations. It can serve as a reference point for future studiesaddressing the issue of electoral behavior in unexpected, unusual contexts.
Author Mikołaj Cześnik (Wydział Nauk Humanistycznych i Społecznych)
Mikołaj Cześnik,,
- Wydział Nauk Humanistycznych i Społecznych
Journal seriesEast European Politics and Societies, ISSN 0888-3254, (A 25 pkt)
Issue year2014
Publication size in sheets1.05
Keywords in Englishelections, Poland, voter turnout, voting
ASJC Classification3312 Sociology and Political Science
Languageen angielski
Czesnik-EEPS-2014-1-strona-.pdf of 14-09-2015
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Score (nominal)25
Publication indicators Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2014 = 1.364; WoS Impact Factor: 2014 = 0.437 (2) - 2014=0.509 (5)
Citation count*15 (2021-04-15)
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