Tadeusz Mazowiecki


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(b. Plock, 17 Apr. 1927)

Polish; Prime Minister 1989–90 In the early 1950s Mazowiecki started his career as a journalist and Catholic activist within the official Polish Catholic organization, PAX. He rose to become editor of Wroclaw's weekly Catholic newspaper. In 1955 he was expelled from PAX after a row with its leader and the next year founded the Warsaw branch of the Club of the Catholic Intelligentsia. From 1961 to 1972 he played a prominent role in the independent Catholic group, Znak. Mazowiecki was a significant figure in forging close bonds between the Polish intelligentsia and the workers' movement. In 1970 he tried to organize a commission to investigate the government's use of violence against workers' demonstrations that year. He was close to the Workers' Defence Committee, acting as its spokesman during a hunger strike in 1977. In August 1980, Mazowiecki became Lech Wałȩsa's adviser when confrontation started between the workers of the Gdańsk shipyard and the government, and continued to advise Wałȩsa after the foundation of the trade union movement Solidarity in September 1980.

Mazowiecki did not stand in the partially free elections of May 1989 because he disagreed with Solidarity's refusal to allow candidates from outside its own organization to run on its ticket. Nonetheless, at Wałȩsa's insistence, General Jaruzelski appointed him as the first non-Communist head of government in the Soviet Bloc on 24 August 1989. He formed a Solidarity-led coalition government on 12 September. From then to the end of the year his government enacted a series of decrees removing the coercive apparatus of the former Communist regime. In January 1990 he gave his full support to the radical Balcerowicz Plan for rapid marketization. This led to conflict with Wałȩsa, who on the one hand was concerned at the hardship caused by economic reform and on the other believed that political change ought to be faster. The split in Solidarity came to a head in September 1990 when Jaruzelski resigned from the presidency. In November 1990 Mazowiecki stood against Wałȩsa and the hitherto unknown Polish-born émigré businessman Stanisław Tymiński. He gained 18 per cent of the vote and was beaten by both Wałȩsa (40 per cent) and Tymiński (23 per cent). After this humiliation, Mazowiecki resigned from the government. In 1990 he was a founder of the Democratic Union (later the Freedom Union), and was its chairman until 1995. He left the party in 2002 and then in 2005 created another party, the Democratic Party. He was Special Envoy for the United Nations' High Commissioner on Human Rights to the former Yugoslavia (1992–5), resigning after the UN's inaction at Srebrenica. He was a Member of Parliament from 1989 to 2001 and then was re-elected for his new party in 2005.

Subjects: Politics.

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