Poland: 1981-2001

Social

Underground movements begin

07/01/1982

In place of the mass Solidarity movement, which had been oppressed by the government-imposed martial law, grew a group of underground publishers and activists. As the political scene seemed to calm, Jaruzelski gained confidence but continued the militarization of mines and factories. In October, a new law passed that allowed unions to strike, but not for political reasons. It also prohibited them from setting up national organizations for two years. When martial law finally began to relax, Solidarity was already weak and disorganized. The underground movements thus came to a halt.

Lech Walesa awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

10/05/1983

Solidarnosz became a legal organization

06/04/1989

Poland joins NATO’s partnership for peace program

01/01/1994

Political

Wojciech Jaruzelski becomes prime minister

02/01/1981

Jaruzelski imposes Martial Law

12/01/1981

Shortly after he was elected Prime Minister of Poland, Jaruzelski imposed what the Polish called a "state of war," or martial law. Previously, solidarity sought a partnership with the Catholic Church and the government, but retaliation came quickly. Under martial law, media and educational institutions went under "verification," a process which tested each employee's attitude towards Poland's regime and Solidarity. More than 2,000 workers lost their jobs during the time martial law was in effect. Solidarity and its leaders were arrested, full censorship and a 6-day work week was reinforced, coal mines were placed under military control, and military courts were established to set long jail sentences to those who were spreading false information.

Martial law suspended

12/01/1982

Jaruzelski becomes Council of State

11/06/1985

Jaruzelski approved talks between the government and the Solidarity movement

01/01/1988

Polish Legislative Election

06/18/1989

The Polish legislative election of 1989 was the 10th election to the Sejm, which was the parliament of the People's Republic of Poland. Not all parliamentary seats were easily challenged, but the resounding victory of the Solidarity opposition paved the way to the fall of communism in Poland. After the election, Poland became the first country of the Eastern Bloc where representatives elected democratically gained actual power. The election surprised Poland because the Solidarity campaign proved to be much more successful than it was expected. Out of 100 seats in the Senate, 99 were won by Solidarity and 1 by an independent candidate. This election was one of the major milestones in the fall of communism in Eastern Europe.

Jaruzelski becomes President of Poland

07/19/1989

Soviet troops begin leaving Poland

10/01/1990

Lech Walesa elected president

11/25/1990

Aleksander Kwasniewski narrowly beats Lech Walesa to become president

11/05/1995

Polish Parliament adopts a new constitution

01/01/1997

Economic

Polish United Workers' Party (PUWP) declared bankruptcy

04/01/1989

Market reforms launched

01/01/1990