Warsaw, 2 March 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Polish Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz was re-elected two days ago (Feb. 28) by the national congress of the Freedom Union (UW) as head of the party which is the junior partner in the government.
Balcerowicz was the architect of the tough program of economic changes in the early 1990s. He was also instrumental in engineering a parliamentary election campaign which made it possible for his party to enter into coalition with the broadly based Solidarity Electoral Alliance (AWS).
Balcerowicz told the congress that he intends to push the party into the position as "the most influential political power" in the country.
At the same time, Balcerowicz said that the Freedom Union wants to remain a loyal partner for AWS. "We shall be loyal but we expect the same from AWS," he said. The UW has more than 11,000 members now and claims to be the biggest political party in Poland. AWS and the leftist opposition Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) are composed of dozens of small political parties and groups. "We have to be the biggest political force in the future," Balcerowicz said outlining the task for his party in the next three years to come. He also said that UW is against any drastic moves to condemn the former communist organizations. Radical groups within AWS have prepared a resolution for parliamentary approval that calls for the branding of former and now disbanded Polish Communist Party as a "criminal organization." Many prominent activists of former communist groups are currently occupying positions of leadership in the left-wing Social Democratic party. "Such a resolution would cause a deep political split in Poland," Balcerowicz said, adding that "Our party is pursuing a policy without hatred against our political opponents." But he also said the UW wants the Parliament to declare that the Communist Poland had a political system foreign to Poland's national identity and its activities were harmful to the national interests.