Solidarity Weighs Governing Poland
A NONCOMMUNIST, Solidarity-led government for Poland? The idea, dismissed only days ago as a far-off dream, suddenly has become a serious possibility. The scenario surfaced publicly this week in a leading article in the Solidarity newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. And although the movement remains divided about the idea, top Solidarity officials now are discussing it with Soviet officials, sources in Warsaw say.
The immediate Soviet reaction looks positive. Soviet Central Committee member Vadim Zagladin has said that ``This is a domestic matter for our Polish friends to decide. We will maintain relations with any elected government in Poland.'' His statement has made a big impact inside Poland, contacts in Warsaw say.
French-style ``cohabitation'' is envisaged. Just as Socialist President Fran,cois Mitterrand shared power with conservative prime minister Jacques Chirac between 1986 and 1988, the Polish Communists would retain the new post of president while Solidarity would name the new prime minister.
Communist Party leader Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski asked last week that his Interior Minister Czeslaw Kiszczak become the Communist presidential candidate. The Central Committee has urged General Jaruzelski to reconsider his decision not to run for president and it remains unclear when parliament will elect the new president.
Parliament met for the first time this week following last month's elections. Solidarity deputies, many of whom have suffered years of imprisonment, took their seats, becoming the first elected opposition party in Eastern Europe. Historian Bronislaw Geremek was elected Solidarity's parliamentary leader, making him the probable prime minister in any ``cohabitation'' agreement.
Under the Constitution, the new post of president's powers will include the right to dissolve parliament. The Solidarity prime minister would be responsible for domestic affairs, especially carrying out economic reforms. Jacek Kuron, a Solidarity leader, has suggested that Solidarity would be ready to appoint Communist interior and defense ministers.
Numerous uncertainties remain. The new government would inherit a bureaucracy appointed for its loyalty to the Communist Party rather than for its efficiency. The Army and police, which rounded up Solidarity leaders back in 1981, may not follow Solidarity's orders. On Monday, the Military Council issued a veiled warning against ``instability.''
Forces within Solidarity also remain hesitant to take power. The movement's leader, Lech Walesa, along with its potential prime minister Mr. Geremek, both have expressed fear that a Solidarity-led government would be both too strong and too weak - strong enough to produce the rapid disintegration of the Communists and yet not strong enough to impose the tough policies needed to treat the country's economic crisis.
The combination not only would tarnish Solidarity's reputation, Mr. Walesa and Geremek argue. Falling living standards, high unemployment, and greater inequality stemming from a Solidarity-led economic reform might lead to social unrest which would destabilize the country, and leave Moscow with no choice except military intervention.
But Solidarity sources acknowledge that they may have no choice except to take the unprecedented chance of forming Eastern Europe's first noncommunist government in more than 40 years.
Last month's elections left a power vacuum. Solidarity hoped to support a reform-minded Communist government. But the Communists lost badly, so Solidarity has no such government to back.
Fears about the military may be overestimated. Solidarity candidates won by margins of between 70 and 90 percent - indicating many, perhaps even a majority of nominally communist bureaucrats and police officers, voted for it.
Most important, a Solidarity prime minister would garner greater support in the West than a Communist premier. President Bush goes to Poland Sunday, and Solidarity officials say his intervention will be decisive. They will ask him for generous aid, which he might tie to the formation of a Solidarity-led government.