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Poland

Yearbook 1997

Poland. This year's most important political event was the September parliamentary elections, which led to a shift in power. According to Countryaah, governments and prime ministers change rapidly in Poland and the parliamentary elections led to the country getting its eighth government since the peaceful revolution in 1989. To the surprise of many and despite many cracks in the facade, the outgoing coalition between the ex-Communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Peasant Party still had (PSL) has managed to keep the government together for a full four years, albeit with many government reforms and Prime Minister changes.

1997 Poland

For the Peasant Party PSL (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe), the election was a disaster. The party lost 103 seats in parliament, the Sejm. Due to the large election defeat, Waldemar Pawlak was dismissed as party leader and replaced by the outgoing Minister of Agriculture Jaroslaw Kalinowski. Perhaps the most sensational thing about the 1997 parliamentary elections was that Marian Krzaklewski, the leader of the trade union Solidarity, in a short time managed to gather the Conservative opposition into a political force with Solidarity as the base. The new challenger, named Solidarity's election campaign (AWS), took the entire 201 seats in the sejm. Together with the liberal coalition party Freedom Union (Unia Wolnosʹ ci), which captured 60 seats, the two new government parties had a satisfactory majority: 261 of the 460 seats of the Sejm.

The head of government became chemistry professor Jerzy Buzek (born 1940), a veteran of Solidarity but unknown to the general public. Buzek is a Protestant, which is unusual in Poland. He announced in his government statement that his center-right government will invest in Christian values. The powerful Catholic church took a low profile during the election campaign, but was then given the opportunity to enjoy some of the new government's first decision: sexual education was abolished as its own school subject and abortion rights were curtailed.

In the government, several well-known names, such as the former Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka, now appear as Minister of Justice. The Freedom Union Party President Leszek Balcerowicz resigned as Finance Minister, Janusz Onyszkiewicz returned to the Ministry of Defense and the Solidarity Veteran and History Professor Bromislaw Geremek became Foreign Minister. The anti-Semitic Catholic Gdansk priest Henryk Jankowski protested that the Jew Geremek was given a ministerial post.

The turnout was 59%, which is seven percentage points higher than in the last parliamentary elections, in 1993. The actual winner, Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski, chose not to become prime minister. Instead, he has set his sights on the next presidential election.

Severe floods hit Poland during the summer. The rivers Oder and Neisse rose over their banks, 55 people died and the water bodies soaked an area twice the size of Gotland. Thousands of villages and towns became more or less uninhabitable. Wroclaw, Poland in size the fourth largest city, was badly injured, but the newly restored city center managed to save. The damages for the entire flood disaster were valued at SEK 22 billion. Sweden donated SEK 125 million in disaster relief.

The most important events in foreign policy were that NATO invited Poland to join the transatlantic defense alliance from. 1999 and that the EU starts membership negotiations with Poland. The country continued its successful economic policy. The new government's more important tasks include restructuring of agriculture, mining and heavy industry. Budgetary policy must be tightened, the strong zloty will hurt exports and lead to a strong trade deficit.

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