22 November 1990

Lech Walesa is elected as the President of Poland.


Lech Walesa is known for his valiant effort to free his native Poland from Communist rule. Born into a working-class family in 1943 in Popowo, he excelled in school. But lack of money forced Walesa to attend a vocational school at 16. In 1967, he moved to Gdansk where he worked in a shipyard as an electrician. By this time, Polish workers were beginning to protest the poor conditions of life. A strike in Gdansk in 1980 led to the formation of the National Committee of Solidarity (see below), and Walesa was elected chairman. In 1990, Walesa was re-elected to chairman of Solidarity. His interest in serving as president in Poland became increasingly public. In the presidential election of 1990, Walesa won more than 74 % of the ballots, making him Poland’s first popularly elected president. For his efforts, Walesa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, among many other awards. Walesa has been married since 1969 and he has eight children. He is a devout Roman Catholic.