Communist ruler Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski's reform efforts were rebuffed by the lowest voter turnout in postwar Polish history during elections that were boycotted by the outlawed Solidarity union, official figures released Monday showed.
"The state electoral commission said about 56 percent of people eligible for voting took part in the elections," the official news agency PAP said. The figure is 11.2 percent below the previous low turnout.While voters nationwide trickled to the polls over 16 hours to elect local government officials Sunday, police broke up demonstrations in two cities by protesters who denounced the balloting as a sham.
Witnesses said at least a dozen people were injured and 10 arrested in clashes between police and protesters in Gdansk and near Krakow.
The outlawed Solidarity union boycotted the election on grounds that all candidates were chosen by the Communist Party and affiliated groups.
Government spokesman Jerzy Urban said the turnout in five cities - Warsaw, Lodz, Gdansk, Krakow and Gorzow Wielkopolski in western Poland - was several percentage points below the national average and attributed some of the apathy to Poland's severe economic difficulties.
"This concerns some people definitely, but is not the case of all of Polish society," he said.
Earlier, Urban said the government would assess the election results as "good" if half of the 26 million eligible voters in the nation of 38 million cast their ballots.
The final official turnout was the worst since the communist takeover of Poland in 1945. Turnout in a referendum last Nov. 29 was 67.2 percent, the previous low.
About 75 percent voted in the last People's Council elections in 1984 - the first elections since the declaration of martial law in 1981 - and 79 percent voted in parliamentary elections in 1985.