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Poland is cradle of constitutionalism in continental Europe says PM

Rafał Guz/PAP

Having paid tribute to Poland’s Constitution of May 3, 1791, one of the most progressive supreme laws in Europe at the time, the Polish prime minister has said that if the Polish nation was born at its baptism, it became one in the modern sense on the day of its passage.

Mateusz Morawiecki made the statement in an article published in British magazine ‘The Critic’ on Wednesday as part of a Polish worldwide media project. 

The constitution was passed on May 3, 1791, by the Great Sejm (grand parliament) of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and was Europe’s first document of its kind, predating the famous French Constitution and following the American one by only four years.

Morawiecki wrote that, on the day the May 3 Constitution was adopted, Poland became “the cradle of constitutionalism in continental Europe,” and added that the constitution formed not only the basis for the later act of independence but also for the Solidarity movement. 

“Even when our ancestors lost their outer liberty, their inner freedom remained. This was true under the partitions and later when the ominous shadow of the Iron Curtain fell on our homeland,” he said. 

Referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Morawiecki stated that February 24, 2022, reminded us that freedom is not given once and for all. 

“The war beyond our homeland’s eastern border is not only about our freedom but also our identity, about whether we will still be Poles in the next two hundred and thirty or even a thousand years,” he wrote.

According to Morawiecki, “the fate of the Constitution of May 3 offers us yet another lesson. Only a nation-state, not a supra-state federation, can be a reliable guarantor of its citizens’ liberty.” 

Having asked what Europe would be without the nations that constitute it, Morawiecki said that it could only exist if its peoples prevailed. 

“It is as a community of nation-states, united and respectful of each other’s differences, that the European Union will retain the political and moral strength to confront the imperialism of Russia and its ‘red tsars’,” Morawiecki continued. 

“There are more challenges ahead. The balance of global powers may shift before our eyes,” the Polish prime minister concluded.

The worldwide media project called ‘Telling Poland to the World’ was launched as a joint initiative by Poland’s Institute for New Media, the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), the Polish National Foundation, the Foreign Ministry and the Polish Press Agency.

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