In 1987, he helped block Jaruzelski's reform initiatives by organizing a boycott of the government referendum, and in 1988 he led a series of nationwide strikes. In 1989 he negotiated an agreement with the government under which Solidarity was legalized and allowed to campaign as a political party in the upcoming elections. By the end of Aug., 1989, a Solidarity-led coalition government was in power, but Wałęsa became increasingly critical of Premier Tadeusz Mazowiecki. In Dec., 1990, Wałęsa was elected president of Poland, defeating Mazowiecki, and resigned his Solidarity post. Wałęsa failed to win reelection in 1995, losing to Aleksander Kwaśniewski, a former Communist who was the Democratic Left Alliance candidate. He ran again in 2000 but received only 1% of the vote. In 2017, handwriting experts employed by a state historical institute said that Wałęsa had signed secret police reports and payment receipts in a Communist-era interior minister's files, but he insisted the signatures were counterfeited; the issue was complicated by the fact that the Law and Justice party, which controlled the government, had a history of animosity toward Wałęsa.
See his autobiography, The Struggle and the Triumph (1992).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Polish History: Biographies