The election of Karol Wojtyła as Pope John Paul II in 1978 gave the Poles another push towards independence. Even if many members of the „Solidarność“ movement (the first mass independent trade union in communist states) were imprisoned during the martial law of 1981, the desire to be truly independent was only increasing.
Eventually the Solidarność led by Lech Wałęsa broke Soviet control in Poland. The first elections of the Third Polish Republic were held in 1989 and the country entered a period of transition from a communist state to the capitalist economic system and liberal parliamentary democracy. A modern Polish state arose.
Poland now has a new constitution which was signed in 1997. The country is a member of the NATO since 1999 and joined the European Union in 2004. After years of turbulent history, the country has finally found some stability and chance for growth in peace.