2022 Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index
After two years of dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, CSOs in Poland were confronted with a new crisis at the beginning of 2022: the outbreak of war in neighboring Ukraine. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 led to an influx of several million refugees to Poland. Individual activists were the first to offer support to the refugees. However, CSOs quickly became involved, demonstrating their flexibility and ability to rapidly reorganize their day-to-day activities. In the face of the government’s initial passivity, CSOs coordinated the provision of aid to Ukraine and the refugees, entering into partnerships with businesses and local government units to do so. These efforts were well-received by the public.
While these events were transpiring, CSOs continued to be affected by negative trends familiar from recent years. Those in power continued to divide the sector into “good” (those close to them) and “bad” organizations (practically all others, especially those engaged in activities other than service provision). CSOs’ voices continued to be disregarded during the law-making process, and the activities of civil dialogue bodies were a façade. At the same time, the government adopted several legal changes that loosened the rules on the allocation of public subsidies, allowing more public subsidies to be given to CSOs with personal and ideological ties to the ruling party. The most blatant case of this was known as the Villa Plus affair, in which the Minister of Education awarded funds to CSOs close to the ruling party for the purchase and renovation of expensive properties.
Welcome to the next edition of the CSO Stability Index report, which, with regard to Poland, the Institute of Public Affairs has been preparing for USAID for more than 15 years. The current report seems particularly relevant as we are publishing it on the eve of a series of elections scheduled in Poland from autumn 2023 over the following months.