Alexander Kwasniewski was born in
Poland, on 15th November, 1954. Kwasniewski studied economics at Gdansk
University (1973-77). While at university Kwasniewski became involved in
politics and in 1976 became chairman of the University Council of the
Socialist Union of Polish Students (SZSP).
After leaving university Kwasniewski
worked as a journalist and was editor of the student weekly,
ITD (1981-84) and
Sztandar Mlodych (1984-85). He was also the co-founder of the
computer science periodical,
A member of the Polish United Workers'
Party (PUWP), Kwasniewski entered the government of
Jaruzelski and served as Minister of Youth Affairs (1985-87) and
Chairman of the Committee for Youth and Physical Culture (1987-90).
Reformers in Poland were helped by the fact that
Gorbachev had gained power in the
In 1986 Gorbachev made it clear he would no longer interfere in the domestic
policies of other countries in Eastern Europe.
Jaruzelski was now forced to negotiate with
and the trade union movement. This resulted in parliamentary elections and a
noncommunist government and in 1989
Solidarnosc became a legal organization.
In January 1990 Kwasniewski helped to
found the Social Democratic Party and became its first chairman. The
following year played an important role in forming the Democratic Left
In December 1990
was elected President of the Republic of Poland. He was not a success and
his critics claimed he developed an authoritarian style in running the
country. His behaviour was erratic and he was criticized for his close links
with the military and security services.
In November 1995 presidential election
Kwasniewski defeated Walesa (51.7 per cent against 48.3 per cent). Over the
next few years he worked hard to get
admitted to North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In
attended summit meetings in Madrid and Washington and on 26th February,
1999, signed the documents that ratified Poland membership of NATO. In 2000
Kwasniewski was re-elected as president with 53.9 per cent of the vote.