POLAND 5 ZLOTY DISCOVER POLAND
25 years of freedom
Alloy Finish Dimensions Weight Mintage Date of issue
core: CuAl6Ni2 standard Ø 24.00 6.54 g up to 1 500 000 22-05-2014
It had no right to happen. Twenty-five years ago,
even the best of optimists did not believe in the fall
of Communism. Poles were weary and dismayed:
by Martial Law, by the rationing of meat and sugar,
and by the fruitless attempts to reform the country.
They wanted to live like people in Western Europe.
The strikes of August 1988 were a manifestation of
social discontent and at the same time a warningto those in power that a new threat was about to
But the authorities were tired by the futility of
their own actions; they were aware that without
a popular mandate they could not reform
the economy and ensure peace for the nation.
It was in this climate that representatives of
Solidarity, independent experts, and members
of the political establishment entered into talks at
the Round Table. The very fact that members of these
two opposing sides of the conflict shook hands and
entered into dialogue was symbolic. For the rest of
the world, the Polish Round Table became a model
for reaching an agreement across political lines
– a method for resolving conflicts by peaceful
means, without the use of violence.
During these talks a decision was made to hold
parliamentary elections, which subsequently took
place on 4 June 1989.
These were the first partially free elections
in the history of Poland after World War II.
The Communist authorities ensured that at least
65 percent of seats in the Sejm were reserved for
the Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR) and its
satellite parties. The remaining seats in the
Sejm(35 percent) were intended for nonpartisan
candidates. They competed for these seats and all
seats to the Senate in a democratic manner.
It might have seemed that Solidarity had no
chance against the regime, which was armed
with themedia. The regime, however, was full of
pride and did not account for the determination
of the people gathered around the Citizens’Committee. The
well-worn clichés constantly repeated in the
news could not compete with the fresh
voice of the opposition’s political campaign.
The worn faces of the establishment looked
hollow compared to their opponents standing next
to the victorious Lech Wałęsa.
The elections ended in a decisive victory for
theopposition. The candidates of Solidarity won all
of the 161 seats intended for nonpartisan Members of
Parliament and 99 percent of the seats in the Senate.
This meant a bitter loss for the Communist
authorities of the People’s Republic of Poland.
The defeat of almost all the candidates from
the so-called national list of the ruling party, which
included key leaders of the establishment, was
the most devastating blow. As a result of the
Juneelections, Poland became the
first country of the Eastern Bloc in which the members
of the opposition gained a real influence on
the exercise of power. The elections of June 4th
should be deemed a turning point for the process
of political transition in Poland, since they sparked
a sudden and decisive acceleration of political
transformations. Soon afterwards, Tadeusz Mazowiecki became
the first non-Communist head of government
since the end of World War II. The words he said
during his opening speech shortly after he fainted
at the podium went down in history: “I have
reached the same state as the Polish economy.”
But the economic conditions began to undergo
slow changes. The revolution, which most
importantly was bloodless, could not be stopped
once it had started. The Polish people could finally
form political parties. Censorship was abolished.
The political changes were accompanied
by the economic ones introduced by Leszek
Balcerowicz. On 17 September 1993, the last troops
of the Russian Federation left Poland. We became
a full member of NATO in 1999 and in 2004 –
of the European Union. Our dreams of living
in a free country were finally fulfilled.
On 4 June 1989, the Polish people, tired
of the authoritarian regime, initiated political
transformations which changed the face of
Europe in a matter of months. The casting
of votes into the ballot box at the beginning
of June in Białystok, Kalisz and Wrocław led to
the opening of borders in Hungary in the
summer and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall
in the autumn. The victory of the Solidarity
Citizens’ Committee, the victory of Poles, opened
the road to freedom, the unification of Europe,
and the lifting of the Iron Curtain.