The aim of this paper is to reconstruct the radicalisation process of the political discourse around the Mayor of Gdansk, Paweł Adamowicz. The timeframe is marked, on the one hand, by the retreat from liberal democracy called counter-revolution carried out by the populist camp of the United Right in 2015. This process culminates in the assassination of the Mayor of Gdansk in January 2019.
This case is important not only because of the extreme form of politically motivated violence. Its analysis allows us to see the key elements of the political repertoire with which the process of politically motivated radicalisation has been set in motion. In the debate around the person of President Adamowicz, all the major political conflicts of illiberal democracy were concentrated: The anti-immigration/anti-refugee campaign, the campaign against the largest charity in Poland and Europe (WOŚP), the conflict around radical right-wing circles (ONR), the conflict around the reform of the judiciary in Poland, the conflict around the politicisation of public museums and the memory politics (Westerplatte, the Second World War Museum, the European Solidarity Centre, the attitude towards the German past of Gdansk/Danzig) and finally the conflict around progressive policies (integration of migrants and LGBT+ communities).
The analysis of the aforementioned topics, around which the conflict between Adamowicz as supporter of liberal democracy and counterrevolutionaries intensified, reveals the mechanisms of the escalation of authoritarian tendencies in contemporary Polish politics (Heitmeyer’s model of layers of escalation) with the central figure of anti-elitism and the accompanying process of alienation of the politician’s persona in the public sphere, and finally the creation of the image of a public enemy and psychopolitics saturated with emotions of hatred, which constitute a dangerous potential for the outbreak of physical violence.