June 4th, 2014

Poland’s return to Europe: lessons for Ukraine, Russia and the west

Economics & Politics

World leaders gather in Warsaw today to celebrate Poland’s return to democracy 25 years ago on this day, and the country’s astounding economic and political development since then. Today Poland is a prosperous, dynamic and democratic society. Yet the leaders will make the most of their visit if they understand the deeper lessons of Poland’s remarkable recovery after 1989 and apply those lessons elsewhere, including vis-à-vis Ukraine and Russia.

On June 4 1989 Poland held the first free elections in eastern Europe since the Soviet takeover of the region just after the second world war. Those elections set Poland, and the rest of the region, on a path to democracy and membership in an enlarged EU. The elections themselves marked a triumph of pragmatism in the pursuit of freedom and hope over pessimism. A political agreement between the communist government and the Solidarity opposition called for electing one-third of the lower house of parliament, the rest remaining for the time being in communist hands. In addition, all 100 seats of a new upper chamber, the Senate, would be elected.

Read the full article at the Financial Times or download PDF here


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