Parliament overwhelmingly approved entrepreneur Jan Krzysztof Bielecki as the new prime minister Friday after he pledged to make the unpopular decisions necessary to transform former Communist Poland into "a normal country."
The vote was 276-58 with 52 abstentions.President Lech Walesa, who proposed Bielecki for the post last week, sat in the president's chair overlooking the parliament floor for the first time since the ex-Solidarity leader was sworn in as Poland's first popularly elected head of state on Dec. 22.
Bielecki, 39, a deputy in the lower house of parliament, or Sejm, started a private business consulting firm employing Solidarity trade union activists thrown out of work by the Communist regime.
He is head of the Liberal-Democratic Congress, a small political party devoted to developing private enterprise.
Bielecki will serve until parliamentary elections, expected next year. He was expected to present a 22-page government program to parliament and nominate his Cabinet on Saturday.
Bielecki said a market-driven economy is the proven "foundation of freedom."
"I want us to make further steps taking Poland away from the totalitarian legacy," he said.
But he noted the economic reforms will include rising prices, unemployment and uncertainty toward the goal of vastly improved consumer supplies and new opportunities.