The presidencies of L. Wałęsa and A. Kwaśniewski
As part of the constitutional amendments passed in December 1989, according to hyperrestaurant, the state designation “Republic of Poland” was reintroduced (since then it has often been referred to as the “Third Polish Republic”).
In January 1990 the communist PZPR disbanded and some of its members founded the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland (SdRP). In December 1990 Wałęsa was elected President. Prime Minister Jan Krzysztof Bielecki (* 1951; January to December 1991) continued the market economy-oriented reform course. With the growing economic and social problems in the implementation of government policy, the Solidarność movement, which has been politically fragmented since its involvement in government responsibility (formation of several parties), also lost popularity and influence. The parliamentary elections in October 1991 did not result in a clear majority (29 parties and political groups entered the Sejm); In December 1991 Jan Olszewski (* 1930, † 2019) became prime minister of a multi-party coalition, who tried to slow down the pace of market economy reforms. After his recall (June 1992) H. Suchocka (Democratic Union) Prime Minister of a coalition government of seven parties that emerged from the Solidarność trade union in July 1992. A government program for “general privatization” (privatization of around 600 state-owned companies, issuance of people’s shares) was approved by the Sejm at the end of April 1993. After a successful motion of no confidence by the Solidarność group in the Sejm against the Suchocka government, the latter announced their resignation at the end of May 1993 (still in office until October). The parliamentary elections in September 1993 were won by the left-wing alliance SLD (with the SdRP and others) and the PSL; At the end of October 1993 Waldemar Pawlak (* 1959; PSL) became Prime Minister of a coalition government, but had to do so due to differences with President Wałęsa and to resign a vote of no confidence introduced by the SLD in the Sejm on March 1, 1995; his successor Józef Oleksy (* 1946, † 2015; SdRP) resigned as head of government in January 1996 after an investigation into suspected espionage for the Soviet secret service was initiated. From February 1996 to October 1997 Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz (* 1950) was Prime Minister of a coalition cabinet of the SLD and PSL.
In the presidential elections in November 1995, the left-wing alliance candidate A. Kwaśniewski prevailed over the incumbent President Wałęsa, but faced a conservative-liberal majority in the Sejm in the result of the parliamentary elections on September 21, 1997. The election campaign of Solidarność (AWS), which emerged as the winner of the elections, formed a coalition government with the Liberal Freedom Union (UW) under Prime Minister J. Buzek in October 1997 (AWS), an Upper Silesian Protestant. A controversial liberal abortion law passed by the Sejm in August 1996, which the Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional in May 1997, was replaced by a far-reaching abortion ban by parliament in December 1997. The Law of Illumination (Lustration) of June 1997, which obliges all candidates for higher political offices or public functions to disclose contacts to domestic and foreign secret services before the political upheaval, was amended in December 1998 by a law on the Institute of National Remembrance; this stipulated that the files of all state authorities from the period between 1944 and 1989 should be made accessible (possibility for citizens to inspect the files kept secretly about them and availability of the material for justice and research).
Between January and March and again in August / September 1999, radical peasant protests were directed against the Buzek government and its austerity and reform policies in preparation for the planned EU accession. In April 1999 the left-wing alliance SLD changed into a party of the same name; in June 1999 the SdRP disbanded. After a government crisis, the UW left the coalition cabinet in June 2000; Prime Minister Buzek then led a minority cabinet of the AWS.
The presidential election on October 8, 2000 was held by the incumbent A. Kwaśniewski decide for themselves in the first ballot with almost 53.9% of the votes; he left the other competitors well behind. In May 2001 (in compliance with a constitutional amendment of 1997) the Solidarność trade union broke away from the AWS. The parliamentary elections in September 2001 were decided by an electoral alliance formed from the SLD and the Socialist Labor Union (UP) (41% share of the vote). The AWS received only 5.6% of the vote, which means that it was not allowed to enter parliament as a list alliance; the newly founded Citizens’ Platform (PO) achieved a share of just under 12.7%. In view of the lack of an absolute majority, the SLD and the UP formed a government coalition with the PSL peasant party in October 2001. L. Miller became Prime Minister (SLD); After the coalition broke up, from the beginning of March 2003 he led a minority cabinet without the participation of the PSL. After numerous corruption scandals, which revealed in particular personal links and networks between politics and business (energy sector) as well as the media, the SLD got into an existential crisis. Miller resigned as head of government immediately after Poland joined the EU in May 2004; previously a social democratic party (Polish Social Democracy, abbreviation SdPl) had split off, which distanced itself from the old PZPR cadres in the SLD. A transitional minority government under economist and finance expert M. Belka (from May / June 2004) tried to steer the reform policy into calmer waters until the new elections scheduled for 2005, while the conservative-liberal Civic Platform (PO), the national-conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) and the right-wing national league of Polish families (LPR) sought a majority in the population with a rhetoric of reckoning with the politics of the past 15 years.