Polish people are finally beginning to appreciate what happened in 1989. In 2004 most Poles believed that the political transformation had done more harm than good for the country. Now Polish people no longer feel that way. With the 30th anniversary of Solidarity fast-approaching, CBOS and the European Solidarity Centre recently conducted a survey on the way Poles feel about 1989 and which opposition leaders are now seen as authority figures. In the ‘authority figure’ category Lech Wałęsa was the unanimous winner and received 47% of the votes. The survey confirms research CBOS had completed earlier concerning the politicians that Polish people trust the most (in which Wałęsa regularly tops the list). Second place belongs to Jacek Kuroń while the first non-Communist prime minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki came in third. Lech Kaczyński received a mere 2%.
38% of those polled are certain that communism in the entire Eastern bloc would not have come to an end if it had not been for the political upheaval in Poland while 44% believe that the events in Poland accelerated the death of communism. Since the early 1990s, most Poles considered the political transformation beneficial for the country’s well being, currently 83% believe this to be the case. When asked: “Did you gain or lose more from the system change?” about half replied that they neither lost or gained anything while 24% proclaimed themselves “winners”. Which social groups benefited, which didn’t? The following clearly profited: entrepreneurs, politicians and the wealthy, those who take the initiative and the well-educated. The lives of pensioners and the poorly-educated seemed to have changed for the worse. Why is it that a huge majority accept the change of the political system while fewer praise the effects of the transformation? A sociologist explains that “many people are slightly disappointed with the fact that their lives have not turned out to be as happy and successful as they expected, the Poland of today is a far cry from the country they were fighting for”.