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Gorbachev's export of Perestroika to Eastern EuropeDemocratisation reconsidered$
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Helen Hardman

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780719079788

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719079788.001.0001

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The PUWP Conference, 4–5 May 1989: Too Little, Too Late

The PUWP Conference, 4–5 May 1989: Too Little, Too Late

(p.227) 7 The PUWP Conference, 4–5 May 1989: Too Little, Too Late
Gorbachev's export of Perestroika to Eastern Europe

Helen Hardman

Manchester University Press

This chapter examines the ‘unlike’ case of Poland, where a conference was held one year after those examined in previous chapters. The research indicates that from 1987-1988, Gorbachev encouraged Jaruzelski to convoke the party conference, and that Jaruzelski postponed the event on a number of occasions. The PUWP conference took place after the first set of roundtable talks in Poland between the party and representatives from the opposition, and just one month before the scheduled semi-free elections to the Parliament of June 1989. So, by this stage, the party had begun negotiating the terms of regime change with the opposition, and it had become inevitable by this point that the party was in the process of relinquishing its leading role in a one-party state. Debate at this conference therefore appeared anachronistic, as delegates questioned whether or not Solidarity should be legalised, and many focused on the need to re-establish party unity and the party's leading role in society. The meeting was therefore held too late to serve its intended purpose either as a vehicle to publicise the modernisation of the party, or pledge support of the CPSU.

Keywords:   Polish United Workers’ Party Conference May 1989, Wojciech Jaruzelski, Poland foreign relations with the Soviet Union, Poland economic relations with the Soviet Union, Martial Law, Katyń massacre

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