Poland has risen slightly in this year’s ranking, with gains across the Cultural, Government and Education sub-indices allowing it to clinch 23rd place. In general, however, most sub-indices either remain at the same level or shift by one place. This relative stability within the index contrasts with a rather more unstable year in Polish politics, as the Law and Justice party has faced political scandals and ongoing criticism of its populist agenda. Although the country has maintained its Engagement ranking in the 2019 index, the government’s well-documented, but less well-received, reforms this year may have an impact on the perceptions and position of Poland in future rankings. Whether the ongoing development of its primary soft power assets – namely culture and education – will be able to ultimately save Poland from falling in 2020 remains to be seen.
While Poland’s Digital score has slipped somewhat in this year’s index, it continues to be one of the country’s best assets. With ongoing investment in ambitious digital infrastructure and technologies, this will likely continue to be one of the biggest strengths for Poland in the years to come.
The Law and Justice Party have recently implemented a number of controversial policies which have been met with criticism from both domestic and international audiences. While the party continues to enjoy widespread support within Poland, measures such as the unprecedented suspension of Parliament ahead of an election will inevitably have an impact on how the Polish government, and the country more widely, is viewed and judged.
Digital investment will be the key to Poland improving its soft power ranking, through both domestic investment and bilateral agreements with international partners, particularly as international perceptions of government decisions viewed as populist and illiberal are unlikely to improve any time soon.