The most trusted institutions of the Poles in NATO, the military and the EU; the government, the state media and the constitutional court the least
NATO, the army and the European Union are the most trusted institutions in Poland, according to a survey. The government and two institutions considered to be under its influence – the public media and the Constitutional Court – are the least trustworthy.
The survey on the trust of Poles in institutions has been regularly conducted by the polling institute IBRiS since 2016, making it possible to compare the evolution of attitudes over time in response to events.
In the latest poll, published by the Onet news site, 82% of respondents said they trust NATO. It was 66% in January 2020 and 61% in September 2016. Distrust of NATO has fallen from 26% to 10% between 2016 and today.
Meanwhile, 79% of Poles now trust the army, compared to 68% in 2020 and 62% in September 2017. Distrust of the armed forces has fallen from 20% to 12% over this period.
The increased levels of confidence in Poland’s most important military alliance and its military come amid Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine, which has led NATO to bolster its presence in Poland. The armed forces also played a leading role in responding to a migration crisis on the border with Belarus.
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The third most trusted institution in Poland is the EU, with 62%. This figure has increased considerably from the 45% recorded in September 2016. During this period, the Polish government has regularly clashed with Brussels on issues such as the rule of law and refugee quotas.
The biggest increase in trust since IBRiS’s last such poll was for the police, which rose from 45% to 61% in November 2020. The latter figure was likely lowered by accusations at the time that the police used excessive force against abortion. protests. Previously, in 2017, trust in the police was 64%.
Third from the bottom is government, which is trusted by only 34%, the same figure as in 2020 but higher than the 27% recorded in 2017 and 2016. Respect for the government has also increased, from 55%. at 61%.
The state-owned media – which serves as the mouthpiece of the government – also received 34%, a figure that has changed little since 2016, when it was 31%. On the other hand, 53% say they trust private media, compared to 48% in 2016.
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The least trustworthy institution is the Constitutional Court (TK), at 29%, up from 43% in 2016. Over this period, distrust rose from 33% to 52%.
After the Law and Justice (PiS) party came to power in 2015, it installed its own judges in the TK, including a new chief justice, Julia Przyłębska, who is a close associate of PiS President Jarosław Kaczyński.
This has led many to see TK as a “puppet” of the ruling party. The institution’s popularity has also been hit by its 2020 decision introducing a near-total ban on abortion, which staged one of the largest protests in Poland’s post-communist history and whose polls have regularly showed opposition from most Poles.
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Another institution that has experienced a long-term decline in trust is the Catholic Church. The new IBRiS survey reveals that 44% of Poles trust it. Although this is a slight increase from 40% in 2020, it is down significantly from 53% in 2017 and 58% in 2016.
The church has been plagued in recent years by revelations of child sexual abuse by priests and by the institution’s failure to address the problem. He was also accused of getting involved in politics, including advocating for the ban on abortion and supporting the PiS campaign against “LGBT ideology”.
Meanwhile, trust in the judiciary stands at 38%, up from 44% in 2016. PiS justified its overhaul of the judiciary arguing that it was aimed at improving efficiency and trust. However, critics see these policies as a violation of the rule of law and note that the courts often function less well than before.
Two institutions that have been individually included for the first time this year are the lower house of parliament, the Sejm, where the PiS-led government has a majority, and the upper house of the Senate, which is controlled by the opposition. 37% of Poles trust the Sejm and 45% the Senate.
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Main image credit: NATO/Flickr (under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written about Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Police, POLITICO Europe, EUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.