Poland is a nation in Central Europe with one of the continent's largest economies. The country is a unitary state divided into 16 administrative units. After the Second World War, Poland turned into a satellite state of the Soviet Union. The country was governed by a communist government. In 1989, a revolution in Poland overthrew the Communist government and established a democratic government. The President is the head of state, the leader of the executive arm of government, and the supreme commander of the Army. The President is elected by the citizens to a five-year term and can run for a maximum of two consecutive terms.
Wojciech Jaruzelski was Poland’s first president following the fall of single-party communism with the establishment of a democratic government. Wojciech Jaruzelski, who was born to polish parents in July of 1923, went to a Catholic school and later joined the Polish Army. He rose through the ranks and became the Polish Minister of Defense in 1968. Wojciech Jaruzelski is accused of taking part in the brutal suppression of striking workers in the 1970s. He was named the prime minister of Poland in 1981. Later in the same year, he declared martial law in Poland. He resigned as prime minister and defense minister in 1985 and took up the role of Chairman of the Polish Council of State. The new position was equivalent to the head of state. In 1989, after a series of round-table talks and negotiations held by working groups, the Polish government was altered into a democratic government and the role of the president was reinstated as the head of state and the chief of government. Wojciech Jaruzelski served as president from 1989 until Lech Wałęsa was elected President on December 9, 1990.
Lech Wałęsa became Poland’s first freely elected President in 63 years. Wałęsa began his career as an electrician at Lenin Shipyard. He engaged in trade union activism and suffered persecution and arrests due to his actions. Wałęsa was a key player in negotiations between government and workers that resulted in the Gdańsk Agreement in August of 1980. He was one of the founders of the Solidarity trade union movement. In 1989, he took part in the round-table negotiations that saw Poland transition from a communist state to a democratic state. He was elected President in the 1990 general elections. Lech Wałęsa is credited with leading Poland from communism to democracy. He served as president until 1995 when he lost the election to Aleksander Kwaśniewski. Lech Wałęsa won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1983. Currently, Lech Walesa travels the world giving lectures in Universities and at public events.
Lech Kaczyński succeeded Aleksander Kwaśniewski as Poland’s president in 2005. Lech Kaczyński, who was a lawyer, took part in trade union protests in the 1970s and 1980s. He won a Senate position in the 1989 elections and became the vice-chair of the Solidarity trade union. He was elected the mayor of Warsaw in 2002. Lech Kaczyński is famous for his intolerance to gays. He banned Warsaw gay pride parades in 2004 and 2005. Lech Kaczyński won the 2005 presidential elections. He committed to ending corruption and economic inequality in Poland. Lech Kaczyński empathized with Polish Jews who were persecuted during the Communist rule. Unfortunately, Lech Kaczyński died in a plane crash along with his wife and 94 high ranking Polish officials. The accident took place in Russia as the plane attempted to land in the Smolensk Air Base.
Andrzej Duda is Poland’s current President. He was elected on August 6th, 2015. Andrzej Duda was an envoy to the Sejm and a member of the European parliament before his election as President of Poland. Duda is a devoted Catholic, and observes religious celebrations and attends services regularly.
Roles and Responsibilities of the Polish President
The president in Poland is directly elected by the people to a five-term, and can be reelected only once. The constitution of the country provides that the president is elected by an absolute majority, and failure to achieve this threshold the second round of election is done for only two candidates with the largest and second largest votes. A presidential candidate must be at least 35 years old and is a citizen of Poland at the time of election and needs to collect at least 100,000 signatures of the registered voters. The president also selects the prime minister mostly from the majority party leader.