Solidarity Bloc Reorganizing Poland

Associated Press, Sunday 24 December 2000, 5:52 AM ET

WARSAW, Poland (AP)—Poland's fractured Solidarity bloc is reorganizing under a new leader—Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek—following a divisive defeat in the October presidential election.

Solidarity Electoral Action is transforming itself into a federation of parties, Buzek said Saturday, announcing a deal reached last week by leaders within the bloc.

The agreement marks an end to the infighting that followed the defeat of Solidarity Chairman Marian Krzaklewski in the Oct. 8 election.

Krzaklewski came in third with 15 percent of the vote, far behind President Aleksander Kwasniewski, a former Communist who began a second term Saturday after winning 54 percent of the vote.

Krzaklewski at first resisted pressure to step down, but agreed earlier this month after some of its members formed a federation.

Solidarity leaders said Saturday that all parties within the Solidarity bloc have now agreed to join the federation, and Buzek said details of its organization will be settled in January.

The overhaul appeared aimed to reverse Solidarity's plummeting popularity and avoid losing control of the government in parliamentary elections next fall.

Krzaklewski cobbled together Solidarity Electoral Action from an array of conservative groups in a successful campaign to win the 1997 parliamentary elections.

The bloc includes the Solidarity trade union, which began its anti-communist crusade 20 years ago under Lech Walesa, as well as its political arm and other right-wing parties.

Infighting has eroded the Solidarity-led government's popularity. Polls suggest Kwasniewski's colleagues in the mostly ex-communist Democratic Left Alliance would easily win control of the government in new elections.