Accessibility links

Breaking News

Poland: Walesa Says Return of Ex-Communists No Danger to Polish Democracy

Prague, August 5 (RFE/RL) -- The return of ex-communists to power in Poland does not represent a danger to the country's democratization, former Polish president Lech Walesa said last week.

The ex-communists are now stakeholders in Poland's free market economy, and they only have a social mandate for ruling within the framework of democracy, Walesa told a group of students from Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty headquarters in Prague.

Poland's former communists have "gathered so much capital that they are now going to defend it as if it were national independence." He said "they are not going to share it with another Lenin."

Any attempt on the part of ex-communists to attempt to reinstate a monoparty system would, Walesa said, "cause a social explosion which would erase them from the Polish political scene."

"They are fully aware of this and therefore we can peacefully concentrate on establishing strong political parties," he said.

Walesa, the former Solidarity union leader who maneuvered the communists out of power in 1989, called the communists return to power in free elections a test for his one-time foes.

"An animal trainer, when he wants to check the results of his efforts, presents the animal with some temptations," he said. He called the ex-communists' current ruling position "precisely such a temptation and test. They will either pass the test or cease to exist."

Walesa said he would struggle for the right of communism to be represented in the Polish body politic even though "it is not the ideology that I follow."

"In order to have "normality in Poland," and for the sake of democracy, the country needs "civilized communists," he said.

Walesa defined normality in Poland as representative democracy, freedom of speech, and the free flow of information, among other social freedoms.

Despite the fact that his old foes are now Poland's ruling party, Walesa said he was confident that anti-communist parties will again take power in Poland future polls.

"I am confident that having lost the battle, we will win the war," he said.

Walesa blamed his own defeat in Poland's presidential election last year on disenchantment among the Polish people with the country's sudden transition to a market economy after 50 years of socialism.

"That is one of the reasons why I am here with you and not sitting at the presidential desk," he told students participating in a seminar on the principles of democracy and free market economies.

The seminar was jointly organized by the Washington, D.C.-based Fund for American Studies, Georgetown University in Washington, and Charles University in Prague.