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Solidarity (Polish: Solidarność; full name: Independent Self-governing Trade Union "Solidarity" — Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy "Solidarność") is a Polish trade union federation founded in September 1980 at the Lenin Shipyards, and originally led by Lech Wałęsa. In the 1980s it constituted a broad anti-communist social movement. The government attempted to destroy the union with the martial law of 1981 and several years of repressions, but in the end it had to start negotiating with the union. In Poland, the Roundtable Talks between the weakened government and Solidarity-led opposition led to semi-free elections in 1989. By the end of August a Solidarity-led coalition government was formed and in December Wałęsa was elected president. Since 1989 Solidarity has become a more traditional trade union, and had relatively little impact on the political scene of Poland in the early 1990s. A political arm was founded in 1996 as Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) won the Polish parliamentary election, 1997, but lost the following Polish parliamentary election, 2001. Currently Solidarity has little political influence in modern Polish politics.
Solidarity began in September 1980 at the Lenin Shipyards, where Lech Wałęsa and others formed a broad anti-communist social movement ranging from people associated with the Catholic Church<ref name = "Manfred" /> to members of the anti-communist Left. Solidarity advocated nonviolence in its members' activities.<ref> (Feb 1994) Paul Wehr, Guy Burgess, Heidi Burgess: Justice Without Violence (ebook), Lynne Rienner Publishers, p 28. ISBN 1-55587-491-6. Retrieved on 2006-07-06.</ref> <ref>Cavanaugh-O'Keefe, John (Jan 2001). Emmanuel, Solidarity: God's Act, Our Response (ebook), Xlibris Corporation, p 68. ISBN 0-7388-3864-0. Retrieved on 2006-07-06.</ref> The government attempted to destroy the union with the martial law of 1981 and several years of repressions, but in the end it had to start negotiating with the union. In Poland, the Roundtable Talks between the weakened government and Solidarity-led opposition led to semi-free elections in 1989. By the end of August a Solidarity-led coalition government was formed and in December Wałęsa was elected president. Since 1989 Solidarity has become a more traditional trade union, and had relatively little impact on the political scene of Poland in the early 1990s. A political arm founded in 1996 as Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) won the parliamentary election in 1997, but lost the following 2001 election. Currently Solidarity has little political influence in modern Polish politics.
 Influence abroad
The survival of Solidarity was an unprecedented event not only in Poland, a satellite state of the USSR ruled (in practice) by a one-party Communist regime, but the whole of the Eastern bloc. It meant a break in the hard-line stance of the communist Polish United Workers' Party, which had bloodily ended a 1970 protest with machine gun fire (killing dozens and injuring over 1,000), and the broader Soviet communist regime in the Eastern Bloc, which had quelled both the 1956 Hungarian Uprising and the 1968 Prague Spring with Soviet-led invasions. Solidarity's influence led to the intensification and spread of anti-communist ideals and movements throughout the countries of the Eastern Bloc, weakening their communist governments. The 1989 elections in Poland where anti-communist candidates won a striking victory sparked off a succession of peaceful anti-communist counterrevolutions in Central and Eastern Europe<ref name = "Manfred" /> known as the Revolutions of 1989 (Jesień Ludów). Solidarity's example was in various ways repeated by opposition groups throughout the Eastern Bloc, eventually leading to the Eastern Bloc's effectual dismantling, and contributing to the collapse of the Soviet Union, in the early 1990s.
Formed in 1981, the union's supreme powers were vested in a legislative body, the Convention of Delegates (Zjazd Delegatow). The executive branch was the National Coordinating Commission (Krajowa Komisja Porozumiewawcza), later renamed the National Commission (Komisja Krajowa). The Union had a regional structure, comprising 38 regions (region) and two districts (okręg).<ref name="WIEM">(Polish) Solidarność NSZZ in WIEM Encyklopedia. Last accessed on 10 October 2006</ref>
Currently, Solidarity has more than 1.1 million members. National Commission of Independent Self-Governing Trade Union is located in Gdańsk and is composed of Delegates from Regional General Congresses.
 See also
- Józef Tischner
- One Big Union
- Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
- Space of Freedom - Jean Michel Jarre's concert (Gdańsk, August 262005)
 External links
- Solidarity official English homepage
- Presentation The Solidarity Phenomenon
- Solidarity 25th Anniversairy Press Center
- International Conference 'From Solidarity to Freedom'
- Advice for East German propagandists on how to deal with the Solidarity movement
- The Birth of Solidarity on BBC
- Solidarity, Freedom and Economical Crisis in Poland, 1980-81
- The rise of Solidarnosc, Colin Barker, International Socialism, Issue: 108
- Arch Puddington, How American Unions Helps Solidarity Win
- (Polish) Solidarity Center Fundation - Fundacja Centrum Solidarności
 Further reading
- Garton Ash, Timothy (2002). The Polish Revolution: Solidarity. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-09568-6.
- Eringer, Robert (1982). Strike for Freedom: The Story of Lech Walesa and Polish Solidarity. Dodd Mead. ISBN 0-396-08065-0.
- Kaminski, Marek M. (2004). Games Prisoners Play. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-11721-7.
- Kenney, Patrick (2003). A Carnival of Revolution : Central Europe 1989. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-11627-X.
- Kenney, Patrick (2006). The Burdens of Freedom. Zed Books Ltd.. ISBN 1-84277-662-2.
- Osa, Maryjane (2003). Solidarity and Contention: Networks of Polish Opposition. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-3874-8.
- Ost, David (2005). The Defeat Of Solidarity: Anger and Politics in Postcommunist Europe (ebook), Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-4318-0.
- Penn, Shana (2005). Solidarity's Secret : The Women Who Defeated Communism in Poland. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-11385-2.
- Perdue, William D. (1995). Paradox of Change: The Rise and Fall of Solidarity in the New Poland. Praeger/Greenwood. ISBN 0-275-95295-9.
- Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, on Vatican website
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