An Epochal Shift

Communism yields as Jaruzelski asks Solidarity to head a government

For months, Poland's Communist Party had been losing its grip on power. Beset by strikes, debt ridden, repudiated by an overwhelming majority of voters in elections in June, the regime was drained of the ability to govern. After more than 40 years in power, the old order staggered toward its demise. And yet the alternative seemed inconceivable. Never in Europe's postwar history had a Communist government handed authority over to a non-Communist opposition.

Suddenly last week, the inconceivable happened. After a spate of parliamentary maneuvering by the Solidarity trade-union movement, President Wojciech Jaruzelski, who smashed Solidarity in 1981 and interned its...

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