Politburo member Mieczyslaw Rakowski, an old opponent of Solidarity who puts a premium on strengthening Communist Party rule, was appointed on Tuesday as Poland's new prime minister.
Parliament approved Rakowski's appointment, which the party's policy-making Central Committee announced on Monday, by 338 votes to five with 35 abstentions.Rakowski, 61, replaced Prime Minister Zbigniew Messner, who was dismissed on Sept. 19 after party leaders accused him of mismanaging the economy and failing to halt a collapse in public confidence in the authorities.
The composition of Rakowski's new government will be announced next month.
Party leader Wojciech Jaruzelski, formally proposing Rakowski to parliament as the next prime minister, said: "He is a man full of energy, initiative and courage in the pursuit of new solutions. He is a proponent of democratic reforms."
The government faces the challenge of persuading Poland's hard-pressed 38 million people to accept stringent austerity measures as a means of reviving Poland's chronically inefficient and virtually bankrupt economy.
Rakowski must also coordinate government tactics in negotiations next month on Poland's future between the authorities, the outlawed Solidarity trade union and other public groups including the powerful Roman Catholic church.
Rakowski, reading from a prepared speech after his confirmation in office, said: "It would take a hero, a man of providence, to lead the country at this time. That I am not."
He said he intended to implement Communist Party decisions and to listen to proposals put forward by pro-Communist trade unions as well as other social and political groups.
He did not name these other groups, which implicitly included Solidarity and other independent movements.
The main opposition demand is for the re-legalization of Solidarity. The authorities have said they will consider this, but that the union cannot return as the independent mass labor movement that it became in its 1980-81 legal era.