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For Poland: new leader, new breather

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Poland has gained yet another breathing space. And this time, judging by the reactions of both ordinary Poles and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, there is perhaps a greater opportunity than before to turn it to good account.

Currently in France, Mr. Walesa sees Premier Wojciech Jaruzelski's emergence as head of the Communist Party as "an improvement" on the former leadership.

Comments by Poles in or out of Solidarity suggest it means a better chance of cooperation among party, government, the union-that all three begin to see the common interest in not letting the perilous situation of the last month drift further. Among them:

"Jaruzelski is a decent man. He will respect the Constitution."

"Once again we have managed to avoid a catastrophe!"

"The uniform is an important symbol. Perhaps now we shall get more active, more resolute and visible leadership. That is what Poland needs."

The Soviets, too, seem to approve the latest shift in the Polish leadership. President Brezhnev sent General Jaruzelski a warm message of congratulations.

But some Poles shrugged off the resignation of Stanislaw Kania and his replacement by General Jaruzelski, who is both premier and defense minister, as "just another change of faces" unlikely to change anything -or "put more food in the shops."

Perhaps they are right. But Jaruzelski is head of an army that has always stood high in Polish national esteem and patriotism, regardless of government ideology.

When he becoame premier in February, there was a sense that the appointment of a "man in uniform" meant discipline and organization. It has yet to work out that way.

But the symbolism seems to carry weight with the public and withing the party -a party hovering on the brink of disintegration when this last Central Committee session opened.


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