Polish leader loses re-election bid

The Associated Press

WARSAW, Poland Life was never so difficult for Lech Walesa as it was after he became president. It might just get easier now that he's been unseated.

The 52-year-old symbol of Solidarity's struggle for Poland's self-determination was a hero at home and abroad until his 1990 election. Then his faults started showing.

He was too combative and stubborn, wielding his veto power liberally, shunning compromise, alienating potential allies. His way of expressing himself was often vague, confusing even insulting.

Walesa only survived the Nov. 5 first-round presidential election because no other Solidarity-rooted candidate stood a chance of defeating the telegenic ex-Communist Alexander Kwasniewski.

Even in defeat, the common side of Walesa that so often turned off his countrymen showed through.

The scrappy former electrician just couldn't resist a cheap shot at Kwasniewski, who foiled his re-election bid by winning 51.7 percent of the vote in Sunday's runoff.

''We're not going to talk because we don't have anything to talk about,'' Walesa told reporters Monday when asked his response to Kwasniewski's call for reconciliation.

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