Lech Walesa (born in 1947) is a Polish trade-union leader, founder of Solidarity in 1980, an organization, independent of the Communist Party, which forced substantial political and economic concessions from the Polish government 1980-1981 until being outlawed.
In 1989 he negotiated an agreement with the Polish government that legalized Solidarity and set in place a new 'socialist pluralist' political structure. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983.
Walesa, as an electrician at the Lenin shipyard at Gdansk, became a trade-union organizer. Here he founded the Solidarity (Solidamos'c) confederation of trade unions.
A series of strikes led by Walesa, a devout Catholic, drew wide public support. In December 1981 Solidarity was outlawed and Walesa arrested,
following the imposition of martial law by the Polish leader Gen Jaruzelski. Walesa was released in 1982.
After leading a further series of strikes during 1988, he negotiated an agreement with the Jaruzelski government in April 1989 under the terms of which Solidarity once more became legal and a new, semi-pluralist "sodalist democracy" was established. The coalition government elected in September 1989 was dominated by Solidarity. Walesa was elected president of Poland in 1990.
Why is Lech Walesa famous?
Lech Walesa is a Polish politician, trade-union organizer, and human-rights activist.