Kwasniewski, Aleksander

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Lech Wałęsa (b. 1943) Polish trade unionist and statesman, President 1990–5.


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(14 Nov. 1954).

President of Poland, 1995–2005Born in Bialogard, he studied transport economics at Gdansk University. He joined the ruling Communist Party in 1976, and became a leading member of the party's student league. He continued to move up the party's ranks, and in 1985 he entered the government as Minister for Youth Affairs. From 1988 to 1989 he was a member of the Round Table in which the government negotiated with the opposition and ultimately relinquished its power. In 1990 he became head of the reformed Communists, now renamed the Social Democratic Party. For the 1995 presidential elections, he headed a coalition of left‐wing parties and narrowly won against Lech Wałęsa. Despite his Communist past, the reformist, youthful leader did much to reconcile the country's new political elites with former Communist circles and a more conservative agricultural population. In 2000 he was re‐elected in the first round, with 53.9 per cent of the vote.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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