“After leading the failed shipyard strike in 1970, I thought: ‘God, let me come back here and carry out once again the fight with this gang and win.’
I was entirely devoted to the cause. Nothing counted money, wife, children, life, death. Nothing. I only did what I believed in. And I believed in the strike. Later, in 1989, as communism collapsed, I knew that democracy and pluralism would also bring divisions. For this reason, I had doubts about whether handing over power to the masses would be good for Poland.
In spite of the fact that Solidarity was my baby, I was afraid that if the workers didn’t have work and bread, they might resort to violence building gallows to settle accounts with former communist leaders.
As President, I wanted to beat lawlessness with law, lack of democracy with democracy, and I expected the nation would understand my intentions and give me a second term in office. But I didn’t get it. Looking back, maybe I should have done more to explain my belief that a presidential system with decrees would be better for the country.”
Lech Walesa is the leader of the Solidarity movement and former Polish President
Next Warsaw, Poland: 2003