From Authoritarianism to Democracy in Poland Catholic church, the Union Movement Solidarity and the History of Democratic Change


  • Zoran R. Jovovi? Montenegrin



Solidarity, Catholic church, authoritarianism, democratic transition, democratic consolidation, semi-presidential system, Poland, Lech Wa??sa, Aleksander Kwa?niewski.


The paper examines the complex process of transition from a non-democratic to a democratic regime and the consolidation of the government system in Poland. The specificity of the democratic transition in Poland, in relation to other transitions in Central and Eastern Europe, is reflected in the nature of the non-democratic regime, which was more authoritarian than (post)totalitarian. Hence, while the communist regime was in force, social pluralism managed to be preserved to the highest possible extent. Preserved social and even political pluralism later contributed to success in the transition process. The military-party regime in Poland, after Gorbachev came to power in the USSR, applied the strategy of getting out that took the form of negotiations between the political position and the political opposition at the Round Table. The compromise ended the negotiations and brought about semi-free elections, on one, and the controlled democratic transition in Poland, on the other hand. The event was accelerated when, in semi-free elections, the popular Solidarity movement defeated the then-ruling communist group. The provisions of the Agreement were fully respected by both sides. In the end, after the Second World War, it was Poland whose citizens were the first to overthrow at the regular elections. The Round Table Agreement established the function of a strong president, who was directly elected. That function was first used by Leh Valensa, the leader of Solidarity. The extreme proportional election method and the fragmentation of Solidarity, in terms of the creation of several political parties, resulted in the establishment of a multi-party semi-presidential system. The change in the electoral system and the inappropriate tactics of the political parties that emerged from Solidarity enabled the left-wing government to come to power and ensured the post of president to a post-communist candidate (Darmanovi?, 2002). The transfer of power from Solidarity to their former rivals, who fundamentally changed, managed to end peacefully and Poland slowly entered the phase of consolidation of the government system.