The Coastal Free Trade Unions: The campaign to boycott the 23 march 1980 elections of the Parliament and national councils

With an Act of 17 January 1980, the PRL Council of State (Rada Państwa) set the date of the elections to the Parliament and provincial national councils for 23 March (Sunday). Opposition milieux throughout Poland called for a boycott of the elections as the society could neither really influence the Parliament’s composition nor monitor the voting process and its results. The boycott was also aimed against the lack of competition, dictated by the authorities. Following the authorities’ guidelines, the citizens could vote only for the Front of National Unity (Front Jedności Narodu, FJN), composed mostly of individuals elected for the previous term who were responsible for the increase in prices which triggered the workers’ revolt in June 1976 in Radom. Thus elected Parliament would neither represent the Polish society nor guarantee the transformations necessary due to the deepening economic, political, and social crisis. One of the demands was to allow citizens to participate in deciding about the future of their country.

Consequently, the activists of the Free Trade Unions of the Coast prepared a special leaflet “To Citizens,” calling for a boycott of the elections. It was signed by Bogdan Borusewicz, Andrzej Bulc, Joanna and Andrzej Gwiazda, Alina Pienkowska, Maryla Płońska, Anna Walentynowicz and Lech Wałęsa. Beginning with early March 1980, the activists of the Tri-city anti communist opposition intensified the campaign to distribute independent, uncensored materials, leaflets “To Citizens,” issue 45 of Robotnik, and “Elections” posters. The number of anti-election inscriptions and slogans was systematically increasing, particularly in staircases of residential buildings. The Gdańsk security apparatus reported approximately a hundred such inscriptions, particularly in the Zaspa, Przymorze, and Stogi quarters.


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