Solidarity (Polish Solidarność)
An independent trade-union movement in Poland. It emerged after a wave of strikes at Gdańsk in 1980 organized by the Free Union of the Baltic Coast. Demands included the right to a trade union independent of Communist Party control. Under its leader Lech Wałesa membership rose rapidly, as Poles began to demand political as well as economic concessions. In 1981 the Prime Minister, General Jaruzelski, proclaimed martial law and arrested the Solidarity leaders, outlawing the movement in 1982. In 1989 the government, under pressure from both Left and Right, sponsored round-table talks from which Solidarity emerged as the dominant political organization. In 1990 Walesa was elected President of the republic; but ideological differences soon emerged and the movement broke up into a number of separate political parties, only one, a minority party, retaining the name Solidarność. This party led a coalition government from 1997, but split in 2001. It did not win any seats in the 2001 election.