The communist-dominated Parliament on Friday overrode President Lech Walesa's veto on a bill to decide how the powerful lower house will be chosen in its first free elections.
Ending a three-month battle on the issue, the Sejm or lower house voted 283-100, with nine abstentions. A two-thirds majority, or 261 votes, was required to defeat Walesa.The dispute became a slugfest for the fledgling democracy. Walesa vetoed an earlier election bill because it did not meet his requirement that voters cast ballots for parties and not individual candidates.
But the Sejm triumphed on Friday, passing a second bill that still allows people to vote for individuals, instead of letting political parties assign Sejm seats to members in good standing.
Walesa says the system will produce too many parties and factions in parliament, constantly changing alignments and thus weak governments like Poland had after World War I.
The majority of the Sejm argued its version allowed for greater democracy by requiring voters to select individuals.
The system will allow popular incumbents to be re-elected. In particular, it will allow the pro-Solidarity Democratic Union, which split with Walesa, to retain seats held by famous activists and advisers.
The bill calls for 391 Sejm deputies to be chosen from 37 districts. The results would determine the proportional allocation of an additional 69 seats from national party tickets.
Parliamentary elections scheduled for October will be the first completely free balloting since World War II. The Sejm is currently dominated by ex-Communists who were granted 65 percent of its seats under a 1989 deal with the out-going Communist government.
The contest of wills boiled down to the "future shape of the state, in which the president wants to see a strong parliament, capable of forming a strong government," a Walesa spokesman said after the vote.
Walesa's opponents in Parliament contended he was using the dispute to establish his dominance over the chamber.