Poland: Europe's Forgotten Democratic Ancestor

Poland: Europe's Forgotten Democratic Ancestor

Honoring an unsung constitutional legacy.

Indeed, even though the constitution was in effect for only a year, the act was a milestone in the history of law and democracy, being described by British statesman Edmund Burke as “the noblest benefit received by any nation at any time,” who elsewhere said that “Stanislas II has earned a place among the greatest kings and statesmen in history.”

Unfortunately, the document was annulled after the Russo-Polish War in 1792. This situation led to the Second and Third Partitions of Poland, which could not be even prevented by Tadeusz Kościuszko—a hero of the American Revolution and a brigadier general in the United States Army—who called his fellow citizens in 1794 to fight against the partitioning powers.

These tragic events consequently erased Poland’s territory from the map of Europe for next 123 years, and from that point until the end of World War I, Poles became subjects of the three neighboring foreign powers. But for generations, the Poles’ first constitution helped keep alive their aspirations for an independent society.

Until 1989, May 3 was a frequent occasion for antigovernment and anticommunist protests. The date was restored as an official Polish holiday in April 1990 after the fall of communism.

Currently, May 3 is a holiday celebrated not only in our whole country, but Polish-American pride has been celebrated on the same date. For instance, in Chicago, Poles have marked it with festivities and the annual Polish Constitution Day Parade since 1982 .

Having said that, I hope that the tragic events of the past will never occur again—bearing in mind a new threat coming from Brussels, which just like its violent political predecessors, is trying to divide and rule this one of the greatest nations on earth.

Adriel Kasonta is an editorial board member at the Central European Journal of International and Security Studies, a Researcher on the Europe Desk at Wikistrat and co-editor of Konserwatyzm.pl. Kasonta is also a member of the Conservative Party (UK), and former Chairman of the International Affairs Committee at the oldest conservative think tank in the United Kingdom—The Bow Group (2014–15). He is the author of the Bruges Group’s research paper titled "British Euroscepticism."

Image: Wikimedia Commons/Public domain