Crisis and Compromise in Poland
Solidarity wins historic elections; Creates political crisis
June 4th: Nearly 4 months of heated negotiations between the Polish Solidarity Movement and the Polish Communist Government finally came to a head as Poles voted in one of the first open elections in Poland in nearly 40 years. Prior to the June 4th election, the two sides had come to an agreement. Solidarity would be allowed to stand for election in every seat of the newly created Senate, and a third of the seats in the lower house of parliament, the Sejm.
At the time, the agreement appeared to be a victory for both sides. For Solidarity, the deal represented success in a decade-long struggle for representation and reform within Poland. Lech Walesa's movement would finally have its chance to participate in government. For the Communists, maintaining control of two-thirds of the seats in the Sejm would limit Solidarity's role in government and allow it to maintain its grip on the state.
But as the Communists would learn after the June 4th election, what was once seen as a sure thing would soon turn into a fight for survival.
Solidarity would go on to win 99 out of the 100 seats in the Senate as well as every seat they were allowed to contest in the Sejm. The country quickly found itself in the midst of a political crisis.
With concerns that the Soviet Union might intervene, the Communist government and Solidarity reached a deal: Communist General Wojciech Jaruzelski would become President and Solidarity adviser Tadeusz Mazowiecki would become Prime Minister.
For the first time in 40 years, Poland had a democratically-elected head of government.