About 72,000 people have left the ranks of the Communist Party in Hungary in recent months, party officials said.

The announcement was made to reporters Wednesday, the same day the party's Central Committee opened a two-day meeting. Several leaders at the meeting criticized the increasing openness and debate allowed by the party.Party membership now stands at 816,000 in this nation of 10.6 million people.

Between October 1987 and June 1988, about 53,500 members left the party, mostly people between the ages of 50 and 60, party officials said.