Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Polish leaders may be ready to draw line on Solidarity

The confrontation between the Polish government and Solidarity is suddenly sharpening. The immediate cause of this is a lenghty Politburo meeting Sept. 15, seen here as the forerunner of a much harder government line toward the independent union movement.

The Politburo meeting was a response to the opening stage of Solidarity's first-ever national convention, which adjourned a week ago after militants had pushed through a series of "political" resolutions.

About these ads

Polish officials make no effort to conceal their deep concern.

"These are the most serious days . . . in all the 12 months since August last year," one said to the Monitor. "It has become an open question of political power in Poland on which there can be and will be no compromise. The party has no other option."

What seems likely is that the Politburo is about to draw the definite frontiers of reform and to make clear that Solidarity must comply with the terms written into its charter -- including respect for the socialist constitution and the dominant role of the communist Party. Passivity in the face of the union's "political" demands is out of question.

If the leadership does this, the question immediately arises: How does the regime propose to enforce its writ? Like much else just now, that is something the next weeks -- or even days -- may show.

Today, behind a facade of calm and late summer sunshine, the atmosphere is uncannily quiet and subdued. But everyone is expecting "something" to relieve the tension of the challenge to the government's power.

At the heart of this fresh breakdown of confidence are resolutions Solidarity adopted:

* Calling for new electoral laws to permit a multiplicity of freely chosen candidates for next year's local government elections and for parliamentary elections in three years.

About these ads

* Threatening to defy the law and boycott the government's plans for self-management in factories unless it concedes to the workers full rights to elect (or dismiss) directors.

* Announcing its determination to establish its own television and radio stations if it is not satisfied on the issue of uncontrolled access to the state-owned broadcasting media.

* And the exhortatory "message" and promise of support to workers in other East European countries who might aspire to their own free labor unions.

Many Poles -- even members of solidarity itself -- saw this "message" as ill-advised and unnecessarily provocative. Many were dissapointed that the convention at Gdansk often seemed more concerned with politics that with union and working-class social interests or concrete ideas on how Poland might begin to lift itself out of its economic crisis.

At time of writing there were no indications of the substance of the expected Politburo statement. It was said that Tuesday's long meeting was an extremely tough one.

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.