Poland. The year began with a disaster, when at least 63 people were killed and over 140 injured outside Katowice, when a snow-filled roof at a trade show collapsed over a letter pigeon show. The hall’s owners were accused of neglecting security.
According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in Poland include Independence Day (November 11) and New Year (January 1). The fragile Conservative government had major problems during the year. Attempts to announce new elections to obtain a stronger majority, if possible, were unsuccessful. In the spring, therefore, Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz’s Party of Law and Justice (PiS) negotiated government cooperation with the left-wing populist Self-Defense and the Nationalist Populist Party of Polish Families (LPR). Both parties had fought against Polish EU membership, but their controversial leader, Self-Defense Andrzej Lepper and LPR’s Roman Giertych, each got his post as Deputy Prime Minister. Foreign Minister and EU friend Stefan Meller resigned in protest against the deal with the two disputed politicians, an agreement that was described in Polish media as a pact with the devil. However, reform-friendly Finance Minister Zyta Gilowska remained in the government, which calmed down the business sector somewhat, though not for long. Gilowska was soon forced to resign, after information emerged that she had provided false information about her contacts with the security service during the Communist dictatorship. Prime Minister Marcinkiewicz appointed Pawel Wojciechowski as new finance minister. That decision made Marcinkiewicz regret it. President Lech Kaczyński felt he had not been informed in advance, and a growing conflict between the head of state and the head of government led to Marcinkiewicz filing his resignation. The new Prime Minister’s twin brother, PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński was appointed as new Prime Minister. In many circles, concern was expressed that such great power was gathered in one and the same family. President Lech Kaczyński felt he had not been informed in advance, and a growing conflict between the head of state and the head of government led to Marcinkiewicz filing his resignation. The new Prime Minister’s twin brother, PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński was appointed as new Prime Minister. In many circles, concern was expressed that such great power was gathered in one and the same family.
Parliament voted in August through one of Kaczyński’s core issues, a law that allows the scrutiny of other politicians, officials, journalists and teachers during contacts with the security service during the communist era. Political opponents accused Kaczyński of actually wanting to carry out political purges of unwanted elements, a mirror image of the escaped.
Government cooperation was staggering and in September Andrzej Lepper was dismissed only to be taken to graces a few weeks later. At the end of the year, the opposition demanded Lepper’s resignation after a woman stated that she was forced to have sex with the minister.
When in November the EU wanted to open negotiations with Russia on renewed partnership, the Polish government protested. Poland demanded, among other things, that Russia first halted its export of Polish food to the Russian market.
At the end of the year, Poland was again hit by a serious accident with many deaths. Twenty-three workers were killed following a methane explosion in the Halemba mine in the south.
1980 Solidarnosz occurs
However, the government was unable to curb the development of the structural crisis. In August 1980, the government implemented new substantial price increases and, as many times before, workers went on strike at the huge Lenin steel yard in Gdansk. It was led by electrician Lech Walesa, developed into a general strike and forced the government to the negotiating table. But at the same time, the workers maintained their organization and formed on September 17 the national organization Solidarnosz, which after one year reached 10 million members. Later, an agricultural solidarity of 3 million members was also established.
The Communist Party was stunned by the extensive and strong labor organization outside the confines of the party that should theoretically represent this particular class. It went through a series of deep crises and ended up appointing General Wojciech Jaruzelski, who was already prime minister to the party’s first secretary. In December 81, Jaruzelski put the country in a state of war, banned Solidarnosz and forced its leaders underground. Jaruzelski later tried to legitimize his action with the alternative being a Soviet occupation.
1989 The regime breaks down
The martial law was raised in 83, but the constitution was changed and the state of emergency was introduced instead. Throughout the 1980s, international solidarity with Solidarnosz continuedand despite severe repression, the movement was not to crack. On the contrary, the regime became increasingly isolated – both nationally and internationally. With the church as a mediator, the government and representatives of Solidarity began negotiations in 1989. In June elections were held, and the Communist Party was given just the number of seats agreed during the negotiations with the opposition. At the same time, Solidarity rejected General Jaruzelski’s proposal to form a joint government with the Communist Party. The moderate member of Solidarity, Mazowiecki was subsequently named president as the first non-communist president in an eastern bloc country.
Poland immediately established diplomatic relations with the Vatican and Israel, at the same time as the US and West Germany promised financial assistance. The German reunification created some uncertainty in Poland, but in the subsequent negotiations, Germany continued its recognition of Poland’s existing western border. In December 89, the National Assembly resolved that the country should again be called the Republic of Poland. In January 90, the Communist Party was dissolved and transformed into a new party, which however quickly split into the Social Democratic Republic of Poland and the Polish Social Democratic Union.
In January 90, the government initiated a structural adjustment program designed by the IMF. The same month, the country asked for membership of the Council of Europe and established relations with the EU. Accession to NATO was made by the United States and Western Europe dependent on economic reforms in the country and replacements in the Polish military ironclad.
On May 10, 90, the first strike in Gdansk broke out against the Mazowiecki government, which Walesa accused of having “forgotten its working past”. Solidarity was shattered when it first sat in power. In July, it formally turned into a party, later to be split into several parties. In the first direct presidential election of December 90, Lech Walesa was elected president with 75% of the vote. In August 91, the new Prime Minister, Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, resigned, throwing the country into political crisis. The former Communist Party and the Small Peasant Party would well accept his resignation, but Walesa supported the prime minister, supported his demands for special powers and threatened to dissolve parliament.
On December 7, 91, Jan Olszewski was appointed prime minister. Only on December 23, however, was the government approved by Parliament. By November, Poland had been admitted as the 26th member of the Council of Europe, which besides Western European countries consisted of Turkey, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.
On January 13, 92, the first nationwide general strike – of one hour duration – was carried out following the fall of the Communists. The strike was organized by Solidarity in protest of the government’s increase in electricity, gas and municipal heating prices.
From late May, Walesa requested parliament to form a government – due to lack of confidence in Olszewski. In mid-June, Parliament accepted and appointed Hanna Suchocka of the Democratic Union as Prime Minister. She had a coalition of 7 parties behind her. Suchocka conducted tight monetary control and in August began the privatization of 600 state-owned enterprises. In February 93, Walesa, under pressure from the Catholic Church, made the polemical decision to abolish the right to free abortion.
Solidarity was very dissatisfied with Suchocka’s social policy and had a distrust vote against her, which she lost with one vote. At the same time, new elections were printed ahead of time. The election was held in September and marked a return to power for the political sectors that had supported the communist regime. The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Peasant Party (PSL) got a total of 73 of the 100 seats in the elections. After immediately rejecting the election defeat, Walesa ended up appointing PSL leader Waldemar Pawlack as new prime minister.