Poland Thanks for Asking, but

Voters turn thumbs down on a referendum for economic reform

The very idea of submitting a matter of national policy to a referendum was unusual enough. Only once before in its postwar history had Poland held such a ballot, in 1946, and the end result was to legitimize the Communist Party that has ruled the country ever since. But when Poland voted last week on a program of economic reform and austerity, something truly unprecedented occurred: a proposal that had the full backing of the government was firmly rejected. It was the first time in Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe that the authorities had lost a vote.

Ironically, what defeated the initiative of...