Ten years after leading the strike that gave life to Solidarity, nine years after being jailed, seven years after winning the Nobel Prize for Peace, months after hounding President Wojciech Jaruzelski and Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki from their offices, Lech Walesa is elected president of Poland. It serves him right.
The shipyard electrician with a grade school education who became the magnetic leader of the Polish people replaces the Communist general, Mr. Jaruzelski, who had jailed him and suppressed Solidarity before bringing it to power. To win his commanding popular vote for the presidency, Mr. Walesa split Solidarity, which needed to be done because contradiction shrouded its roles as trade union and party, government and opposition.
Mr. Walesa brought this election about by championing public impatience at the constitutional president that Mr. Jaruzelski had become and criticism of Mr. Mazowiecki's painful transition to a free market. In the strange, two-stage election that ensued, Mr. Mazowiecki challenged Mr. Walesa for the presidency. An emigre opportunist named Stanislaw Tyminski, with an obscure past and sinister associations, surged past Mr. Mazowiecki, prompting his resignation from the prime ministry. All the respectable voices that had worried about Mr. Walesa's demagogic streak in the first round rallied to him in the second.