Developments in Central and East European Politics 3 by Stephen White, Judy Batt, Paul G Lewis

By Stephen White, Judy Batt, Paul G Lewis

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The UW left the coalition in June 2000. Kwasniewski’s victory on the first ballot of the 2000 presidential election (Szczerbiak, 2001b) proved a decisive blow to AWS. Krzaklewski came an ignominious third, after the independent candidate Andrzej Olechowski. Following the election, Olechowski wreaked havoc on the party system, with his new Civic Platform (PO) attracting elements from the Freedom Union and AWS. AWS splintered further, leaving Buzek leading a rump Solidarity Election Action – the Right (AWSP).

Martial law drove Solidarity underground, where it maintained a precarious existence in the 1980s. However, when new strikes broke out in 1988, the regime turned to Solidarity’s leaders in an attempt to break the cycle of protest. Poland’s transition is often described as a ‘negotiated’ one, arising from the agreement of government and opposition elites. Indeed, Solidarity gave the regime an interlocutor in the early months of 1989, though deep mutual suspicion persisted. The Round Table Agreement was certainly a ‘pact’, agreed after difficult negotiations; but it was not an agreement for an immediate transition to democracy.

These distinctions have important consequences, because the new borders they set up between ‘ins’, ‘pre-ins’ and ‘outs’ cut across a region that is only just emerging from the damaging divisions imposed by communist rule to rediscover shared history and to identify strongly with the idea of a united Europe. The point was dramatically demonstrated in 1999, when, three weeks after taking in the new CEE members, NATO launched its bombardment of Serbia. For the Czechs, with strong historic sympathies for their fellow Slavs the Serbs, and for Hungary, with some 400,000 ethnic kin living over their southern border in Serbia, this proved an unexpected wrench of their loyalties.

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