In January 1968, during the theatrical performance of “Dziady” by Michievicz, student protests arose as the government decreed the withdrawal of the drama from the scenes. In fact, a certain analogy between the Tsarist regime and the present Soviet one had been found by the audience present at the show. The government prohibition was seen as a limitation on freedom, therefore underlined by demonstrations which involved intellectuals and writers and which also assumed an anti-Zionist character.
The police intervened and also all the security organs. On March 19, 1968 Gomulka gave a speech aimed primarily at downsizing the problem of “Zionism” and invited the Minister of the Interior to curb his own initiatives. And this had a deleterious effect on the composition of the rift since many intellectuals went into exile and the Polish Jewish colony disappeared almost totally as a result of mass emigration to Israel.
According to Abbreviationfinder, Gomulka’s leadership was confirmed but two years later, in 1970, an overthrow of his Political Bureau brought the new secretary E. Gierek to the top of the organization. In 1971 he formed a new majority at the top of the party, distancing himself from those previous negative elements. He restored agricultural cooperatives and stimulated the associative movement of the state sector, strengthening it. In July 1976 the text of the new Constitution was published, involving numerous innovations, among many confirmations, among which article 6 which recited verbatim: “the Polish People’s Republic, protecting national independence and observing the principle of peaceful coexistence, strengthens friendship and collaboration with the Soviet Union and other socialist states “.
Then came the international oil crisis; commodity prices soared and Poland was also affected by western inflation. Massive increases were imposed on imported goods while the demand for domestic products decreased.
In June 1976 there were many strikes in the Gdansk shipyards, but also in Radom and in the Ursus tractor factories. And while all this was happening, to raise the prestige of Poland in the world, the election of Pope of the bishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla, came.
In December 1970 P. Jaroszewicz had become Prime Minister who had endorsed in 1971 an economic policy based on modernization and on Western investments and loans. By 1979 it was clear that this economic policy had only had the effect of indebting the country by $ 17 billion. And at the beginning of 1980, with this situation, the prime minister resigned. He was replaced by E. Babiuch, a member of the Politbjuro of the Workers’ Party, while Gierek remained the first secretary. But Babiuch’s economic plan, mainly focused on the restriction of mass consumption, worsened the situation. The workers’ organizations no longer limited themselves to asking for wage increases but also launched political demands, such as maximum power to the unions.
Babiuch was replaced by J. Pinkowski who on 31 August allowed the signing of final agreements in Gdansk, with which not only wage increases were granted but also the right to free union organization. And at the head of one of these indigati, “Solidarnosc”, L. Walesa, a worker in the Gdansk shipyards and promoter of the strikes in August, hired on 17 September.
Other political and economic events worsened the situation.Jaruzelski returned to the head of the government, Solidarnosc was regularly registered and supported also by the Church and the Communist Party, in 1981, underwent various reforms within it.
In October the 1st Solidarity Congress took place. A number of problems were debated and it was declared that extensive democratization of the country was now more than necessary. Walesa gained more popularity and started a negotiation between the union, the Church and the state, inviting to refrain from strikes.
The negotiation failed and in early December there was great tension across the country. The State Council proclaimed martial law by entrusting power to a National Salvation Council. Walesa and other union leaders were arrested but, it was said, only provisionally. During October-December serious disturbances occurred everywhere and in the end Solidarnosc was dissolved.
Then the economic situation worsened and a serious crisis occurred especially after the interruption of food aid from some western countries. Poland, with enormous efforts, tried to restore normalcy, suspended martial law, freed Walesa and improved relations with the Church, making possible the second visit of Pope John Paul II in June 1983.
In May 1984 a pact of economic, scientific and technological collaboration was signed with the Soviet Union for 15 years. Political elections took place in October 1985. Jaruzelski was elected head of state and president of the council of ministers was Z. Messner.
With the arrival of Gorbachev in 1989 at the top of the Soviet Union, there were important repercussions also in Poland. But the most important of the main actions was certainly the re-legalization of Solidarity and the establishment of a bicameral Parliament.
Some of the most important events of that period were: the creation of a President of the Republic, the definitive legalization of the Catholic Church and the conversion of the resources of the military industry into those of consumer goods and services.
In June 1989 there were parliamentary elections which decreed the defeat of the government. On July 19 the new Parliament elected President of the Republic Jaruzelski, leading Rakowski, prime minister of a coalition government, most represented by Solidarnosc, was T. Mazowiecki.
The most important programmatic points of the new government were:
– reform of the political and economic system, with primary transformation of the law on the ownership
and privatization of industries;
– abolition of art. 3 of the Constitution which sanctioned the leading role for the communist party;
– restoration of the name of the Polish Republic.
In January 1990 there was the 11th Congress which started two new political formations; the Social Democracy of the Polish Republic and the Social Democratic Union of the Republic of Poland. The change in the type of economy and the reform of agricultural policy caused various dissensions and unrest in the countryside in July 1990. Following criticism from Walesa to the government, a split was also made within Solidarnosc.
In September 1990 Jaruzelski resigned and presidential elections were scheduled for November. Walesa was elected President of the Republic. Two other political organizations had formed in that circumstance: the Center Agreement, pro Walesa, and the Democratic Civic Action Movement, pro Mazowiecki. The latter, after his defeat in the presidential elections, resigned and was replaced by economist JK Bielecki.
But Walesa’s debut as president was not happy; he immediately found himself at odds with Parliament. And when these conflicts became unbridgeable, after Walesa had been forced to sign a reform of the electoral law relating to the proportional, which he had always refused to approve, the government fell in 1992. On the other hand, some amendments to the Constitution were approved, which avoided several conflicts of jurisdiction between the legislative and executive powers.
Furthermore, in November it was possible to resort to the International Monetary Fund, so that there was an improvement in the economy and industrial production and the reopening of talks with western banks for the reduction of public debt.
In January 1993, following the ever-increasing interference of the Catholic Church in the government, a restrictive law was launched on the problem of abortion.
In April 1993 the Peasant Alliance withdrew from the government coalition. The new elections of September 19 led the leader of the Peasant Party, W. Pawlak government, while more and more conflicts occurred between Walesa and the government itself.
Meanwhile, the face of Poland had substantially changed; closer collaboration had taken place with the West and, after its reunification, a border guarantee treaty had been signed.
Then Poland asked to join the European Economic Community, joined NATO and tightened relations with all the former Soviet republics. A free trade agreement was also signed with the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Hungary.
But between the parties of government the disputes increased already from January 1994. There were a series of dismissals from the offices of some members, such as the Deputy Minister of Finance and the Minister himself, who was also Deputy Premier.
There were major differences between Parliament and Walesa. He asked and obtained the resignation of the Minister of Defense who had not carried out major reforms in his sector.
Then he opposed the increase in income taxes, even supporting the refusal of taxpayers. In addition, he attempted to dissolve Parliament while refusing to sign the state budget law. At this point, however, he had to sign the financial law to avoid the introduction of an “impeachment” procedure.
In March 1995 Pawlak resigned. He was immediately replaced by J. Oleksy, a member of the Democratic Left Alliance.
Meanwhile, unemployment had increased considerably, so that in May 1995 there were demonstrations sponsored by Solidarnosc and especially in Warsaw there were hard clashes with the police.
Walesa continued to fuel his conflicts with the government and in July of that year he applied his veto to the privatization project that the executive attempted to promote, accusing him of privileging state property.
In November, both on the 5th and 19th, the two presidential rounds took place, in which Walesa was defeated by A. Kwasniewski, who was then elected president.
This election was fiercely opposed by Walesa’s supporters. They pursued many topics of discussion, including the failure to present his educational qualifications.
But what led to a real change in the government, the attempt to dethrone the new president failed, was the declaration by the Minister of the Interior that he had evidence that Premier Oleksy had practiced espionage in favor of the ‘Soviet Union.
Oleksy made many attempts to exonerate himself. Everything turned out to be useless and then he resigned. In his place was appointed W. Cimoszewicz, one of the leaders of the left, and at that point the investigation against Oleksy completely ceased, since no evidence had emerged and indeed the investigations were also declared illegally misleading.
In June 1996, new rules relating to the privatization of state-owned enterprises were approved.
The situation deteriorated, unemployment increased, also because a treaty was signed with the Russian Federation, which prepared to supply Poland with gas, thus removing the possibility of work for the Polish coal mining industry.
Between August 1996 and April 1997, social tension continued to be fueled by incorrect economic maneuvers, which led to the dismissal of both the Minister for Economic Relations with Abroad and the Minister of Agriculture. The Minister of Health and Social Affairs barely dodged the same measure.
On April 2, 1997 the draft of a new Constitution was presented. In May it approved with a popular referendum but was immediately opposed by the opposition as it showed more continuation of the past regime than the possibility of studying those reforms that the country really needed.
This diatribe was interrupted in July as the overflow of two rivers, the Oder and the Niesse, flooding many areas, especially in the south, had caused serious damage and made many victims.
Almost without realizing it, the elections of September 21, 1997, won by the Electoral Action of Solidarnosc and which led the executive J. Buzek, one of the very first members of the historic union, arrived.
He formed a coalition government which immediately got to work and which had as a priority:
– integration with the European Union;
– NATO membership;
– the completion of privatizations;
– the promotion of Christian values;
– the ratification of the arrangement with the Holy See;
– the reintroduction of the restrictive abortion law, requested several times by the pope;
– local government reform;
– alignment of the new criminal procedure code with the dictates of European standard ones –
Then Buzek proceeded with his task and also launched other important reforms, such as that relating to the mining sector and that for health.
Of course protests came from all sides and in late 1998 various strikes took place among farmers, miners and metal workers.
In the field of health, there were major difficulties so that in January 1999 Minister J. Wutzow fell. The Premier was forced to make a government reshuffle with the appointment of two new ministers, Agriculture and Health, but the protests and strikes continued.
In February-March 1998 there were also difficulties with the European Union which did not consider the protectionist projects and measures of the Polish producers to be suitable, for which Brussels had made several cuts in funding.
At the same time Poland had disagreements with Belarus over control of the eastern borders. But on February 26, 1999 the ratification of the mandate for entry to NATO ended, a document filed in the United States on March 12, 1999, together with those of Hungary and the Czech Republic.