Delegates at a Solidarity congress Saturday handily defeated the candidate picked by President Lech Walesa to succeed him as head of Poland's largest trade union.
The surprise election of Marian Krzaklewski showed the desire of rank-and-file Solidarity members to emphasize the defense of workers' rights and lower the union's political profile, analysts said.Krzaklewski won on the third round of voting at Solidarity's third national congress, after failing to win an absolute majority the first two rounds.
"After political successes we need union successes," Krzaklewski said after his triumph, flashing a "V" for victory sign. He had not been among the three candidates considered frontrunners in the election.
The vote "is an expression of the union's departure from politics and a need for a new leader without any associations," said Andrzej Slowik, leader of the powerful Lodz chapter. Slowik was regarded as one of three favorites.
Walesa, who helped found the first independent union in Eastern Europe more than a decade ago, had opened the congress by appealing to the union to "fulfill its historical mission to the end" by participating in his government's reforms.
But Bogdan Borusewicz, the Gdansk chapter leader and Walesa's nominee to succeed him, polled only 70 votes in the first round and was eliminated after earning only 92 in the second.
Backed by the powerful chapter from the coal-mining region of Upper Silesia, Krzaklewski in the third round received 222 of the 433 votes cast.
Lech Kaczynski, who had led Solidarity provisionally since Walesa's election to president last year, received 174 votes.
Krzaklewski, 41, pledged to make Solidarity the main anti-Communist force in Poland. He also called for urgent decisions concerning the outgoing Communist leadership and the many companies they are operating.
But he warned that Solidarity must not lose its identity as a trade union and stressed the moral values that made it such a powerful force throughout the '80s.