Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Poland’s prime minister-designate, has spent more than 30 years defying the Communist party as a writer, parliamentarian, teacher and strike organizer. A reserved and bookish Roman Catholic intellectual, he lacks the charisma of shipyard electrician Lech Walesa. But the two men formed a close friendship during the Baltic strikes that spawned Solidarity in August, 1980, and Walesa calls him “a man of grand scale.” Mazowiecki is less sanguine about his ability to lead the country out of its economic morass. “I fear many things, but were I only to have fears I would be a total pessimist,” he said after a meeting last week with President Wojciech Jaruzelski. “Somebody must still try.”
A law school graduate and a journalist by profession, the 62-year-old Mazowiecki seems to prefer writing to politics. Unlike
other senior Solidarity advisers, he did not run for parliament last June but instead reopened Tygodnik Solidamosc, the weekly magazine he had edited until it was banned under martial law in December, 1981. However, he has 10 years of parliamentary experience dating back to the 1960s, when he served as a deputy for a small Catholic opposition group. During that time he also edited the Catholic monthly Wiez, in which he published authors banned by the Communist regime.
Communist authorities barred Mazowiecki from running for parliament in 1972 after he pressed in vain for a government inquiry into the army slayings of dozens of striking shipyard workers. He aroused official anger again in the late 1970s by helping to organize the so-called Flying University, in which leading academics gave clandestine lectures outside the Communist-run education system. And he was among the first of Walesa’s advisers to be imprisoned when martial law was declared.
Although Mazowiecki spent a year in an internment camp, he is not a radical. The Rev. Henryk Jankowski, a priest who knows him
well, described his style as “wise, sensible, cautious in operation.” But Mazowiecki earned the open admiration of activists at all five shipyards in Gdansk—and the respect of then-interior Minister Czeslaw Kiszczak—by acting as conciliator between Walesa and the government during a 1988 strike. Those contacts led to “round-table” talks that produced the historic agreement legalizing Solidarity and allowing it to participate in the June parliamentary elections.
Mazowiecki has been endorsed by Polishbom Pope John Paul II and Josef Cardinal Glemp, the head of Poland’s powerful Roman Catholic church. But Kiszczak, the Communist who stepped down in favor of a Solidarity premier, may prove to be a more valuable ally as the first non-Communist government in postwar Poland wrestles with the nation's staggering economic problems and an entrenched Communist bureaucracy.
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