30 years of free elections in Poland

On June 4, 1989, Poland held its first partially free elections - a novelty in the communist East Bloc. From Poland's perspective the results were of similar significance to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Commentators look back on the historic vote and the three decades that followed.

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BNS (LT) /

Safer, richer and stronger than ever

Poland has accomplished a lot in the past 30 years, stresses British journalist and security expert Edward Lucas in an article published by news agency BNS:

“Poland has become the US's most important military partner in continental Europe. The Pole Donald Tusk is President of the European Council - one of the two top EU posts. ... Unlike all the other developed industrial states the country hasn't experienced a single recession in the last 25 years. Poland has created strong authorities, and its civil society is thriving. Up to a million mostly Ukrainian refugees have been successfully integrated. Domestic disputes may divert attention from these achievements. But Poland has never been richer, stronger, happier or safer than it is now.”

The Guardian (GB) /

How the ex-communists have changed

In today's Poland ironically it's the country's former communists who are campaigning for pluralism and the rule of law, author Sławomir Sierakowski comments in The Guardian:

“Looking back, I believe the true success of 1989 was that former communists remained true to democracy. They did not violate the constitution. They had their faults, of course, but they proved loyal to the newly created democratic system. Recently, those very same former communists ran in the EU elections as defenders of democracy, in opposition to the ruling populists of the Law and Justice party, who are supported by the Solidarity trade-union and the Catholic church. More than anything, this very paradox embodies the success of 1989.”

wPolityce.pl (PL) /

Poland unable to confront its socialist past

July 4 is not a day for celebration, wPolityce.pl points out:

“The Third Polish Republic cannot be called a 'new Poland' but only a 'Socialist Republic Plus'. Among other things because the post-communist 'elites' secured major advantages for themselves. Communist generals in government were able to plunder state archives, protect and conceal the security service and divvy up its funds between them. ... For that reason the 'Socialist Republic Plus' dropped from first to last place on the list of countries that introduced democratic reforms. In the years after June 4, 1989, the carrot and the stick approach shut critics' mouths, prevented Poland from coming to terms with its socialist past, and led to controlled capitalism and controlled democracy.”