Poland remembers its bloodless revolution of 1989
It began in Poland at the ballot box: A season of revolutions that toppled communist regimes from Berlin to Bucharest was set in motion 20 years ago this week by the first semi-free elections ever to take place in the Soviet-dominated eastern bloc.
On Thursday, Poles celebrate the anniversary of the ballot, which delivered a sweeping victory to Lech Walesa's pro-democracy Solidarity movement, kicking off a stream of events that will culminate with celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall this November and the Dec. 25 anniversary of the execution of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
On June 4, 1989, Poles streamed to polling stations with Soviet troops still on their soil, but with a leader at the Kremlin - Mikhail Gorbachev - who was allowing unprecedented freedom to the Soviet satellites as he struggled at home to reform socialism.
Tomorrow (June 4th) marks 20 years since Poland first took to the polls in a bid to free itself from communism and marks the start of a new Poland, a free Poland.
A better Poland? Most would say yes but not everyone:
But for all the gains of the past two decades, some Poles also grumble that much that was good - job security, free time, solidarity - has been lost with the arrival of a Western-style consumer society.
"I am disappointed," said Kazimierz Kasztelan, a 59-year-old unemployed mechanic struggling to supplement a monthly welfare check of 700 zlotys ($220) with odd jobs. He said he voted for Solidarity in 1989 and had joined strikes that pushed the communist regime to allow the June 4 vote.
Is there anyone on the forums who remembers June 4 1989? Or voted on that day? What were the expectations as you voted? Did you expect that Solidarity would have such a landslide win? What was the general feeling after the Solidarity win?