It all began with the pleasing features of Gary Cooper… In the run-up to the election on 4 June 1989, posters with the red Solidarity symbol and the caption “High Noon” were displayed throughout the People’s Republic of Poland. They showed a solitary, small-town sheriff on his way to the ballot-box to cast his vote for the Citizen’s Committee. The fact that – despite the ultimate triumph of good over evil – the American 1952 western carried an underlying and very bitter message probably passed unnoticed. The population of the small town in the movie demonstrated no inclination at all to take a risk. They preferred passively to watch the events that were taking place. The inhabitants seemed all but indifferent to whether order would be restored by a group of unshaven thugs or their obsessively high-minded sheriff. Similarly, in the celebrated Polish election that was to “overturn communism”, almost 40 per cent of the electorate failed to vote. More than 10 million of the 27 million people entitled to vote simply waited to see who would take charge.
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