Poland: 1981-2001


Underground movements begin


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


Solidarnosz became a legal organization


Poland joins NATO’s partnership for peace program



Wojciech Jaruzelski becomes prime minister


Jaruzelski imposes Martial Law


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


Jaruzelski becomes Council of State


Jaruzelski approved talks between the government and the Solidarity movement


Polish Legislative Election


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


Soviet troops begin leaving Poland


Lech Walesa elected president


Aleksander Kwasniewski narrowly beats Lech Walesa to become president


Polish Parliament adopts a new constitution



Polish United Workers' Party (PUWP) declared bankruptcy


Market reforms launched