The Polish Riots and Gomulka's Fall.

by A. Ross Johnson


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A discussion of the Polish Communist Party shakeup triggered by the December 1970 riots. The riots expressed long-standing grievances and a stagnating economy, widely attributed to the government's inability to address real economic problems. Gomulka and his associates became the shakeup's primary victims. Although the new government initiated reforms--reappraising economic development strategy, improving relations with Poland's Catholic Church by reinstating church lands, and providing an outlet for workers' views--worker discontent continued to pressure the new government. The new party head, Gierek, projected a dynamic, charismatic image in open meetings with workers. He responded by providing subsidies to low-income families, more housing, and a two-year price freeze; he improved market supplies and revised the bonus system. His regime gave unprecedented publicity to its activities, scheduling regular meetings of Party Politburo and Secretariat. Yet it strove for continuity in foreign policy. In February, the new regime received a substantial long-term loan from Russia. 26 pp. Ref.

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