Polish Solidarity and the Collapse of Communism in Europe

Polish Solidarity and the Collapse of Communism in Europe
The Revolutions of 1989 (also known as the Fall of Communism, the Collapse of Communism, the Revolutions of Eastern Europe and the Autumn of Nations) were the revolutions which overthrew the communist states in various Central and Eastern European countries.
Labor turmoil led to the formation of the independent trade union Solidarity (Polish Solidarność) in September 1980, originally led by Lech Wałęsa. In fact Solidarity became a broad anti-communist social movement.
By the end of 1981, Solidarity had nine million members—a quarter of Poland’s population.
On December 13, 1981, Jaruzelski proclaimed martial law, suspended Solidarity, and temporarily imprisoned most of its leaders. This sudden crackdown on Solidarity was reportedly out of fear of Soviet intervention (see Soviet reaction to the Polish crisis of 1980–1981). The government then banned Solidarity on October 8, 1982. Martial law was formally lifted in July 1983, though many heightened controls on civil liberties and political life, as well as food rationing, remained in place through the mid-to-late-1980s. Jaruzelski stepped down as prime minister in 1985 and became president (chairman of the Council of State).
This did not prevent Solidarity from gaining more support and power. Throughout the mid-1980s, Solidarity persisted solely as an underground organization, but by the late 1980s was sufficiently strong to frustrate Jaruzelski’s attempts at reform, and nationwide strikes in 1988 were one of the factors that forced the government to open a dialogue with Solidarity.
The events began in Poland in 1989.
In an attempt to take control of the situation, the government gave de facto recognition to the Solidarity union, and Interior Minister began talks with its leader Lech Wałęsa on August 31.
A new series of negotiations, the “round-table” talks, began in February 1989. These talks produced an agreement in April for partly open parliamentary elections.
The 1991 Polish parliamentary election was held on 27 October 1991 to elect deputies to both houses of the National Assembly. The 1991 election was notable as being the first entirely free and competitive election held in the history of the infant Third Republic since the fall of communism, the first free election since 1922, and only the third free election in all of Poland’s history.
In 1989-1991, Poland engaged in a democratic transition which put an end to the Polish People’s Republic and led to a democratic regime, called Polish Third Republic. After ten years of democratic consolidation, Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the European Unionin 2004.


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