Negotiating Model of Democratic Transition: The Case of Poland


Faculty of Philosophy, University of Montenegro, Montenegro


The paper examines the complex process of transition from a non-democratic communist regime to a democratic regime, and the consolidation of the government system in Poland. The specificity of the democratic transition in Poland, in relation to other transitions in Central and Eastern Europe, as it will be argued is reflected in the nature of the non-democratic regime, which was more authoritarian than (post)totalitarian. Hence, while the communist regime was in force in Poland (1945-1989), social pluralism managed to be preserved to the highest possible extent. Preserved social and political pluralism played a pivotal role in the successful transition process. Following Mikhail Gorbachev's ascent to power in the Soviet Union in 1985, the military-party regime in Poland opted for a negotiation-based approach known as the Round Table talks. This compromise marked the conclusion of the negotiations and led to the introduction of semi-free elections and a controlled democratic transition in Poland. The momentum of the process gained traction when the popular Solidarity movement emerged victorious over the ruling communist group during the semi-free elections of 1989. The provisions of the Agreement were upheld by both parties, ultimately making Poland the first country, since the Second World War, to initiate a peaceful overthrow through regular elections. Significantly, the Round Table Agreement introduced the concept of a robust president elected directly by the people, an observation affirmed and advocated in this study. It was Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa who first assumed this influential position, marking a historic milestone in Poland's political landscape. The agreement's establishment of a directly elected strong president enhances the analytical structure and aligns with the study's conclusions.