Communist leaders proposed a new electoral system Saturday that would reserve some Parliament seats for independent candidates and eventually lead to fully democratic elections, opposition spokesmen said.
In the past, only party-approved candidates were able to run for Parliament.Solidarity spokesman Janusz Onyszkiewicz said opposition leaders were willing to discuss with authorities the partially democratic electoral system, which also would reserve a portion of seats for candidates backed by the Communist Party.
But they indicated it appeared acceptable only if other political reforms were made, such as allowing access to the mass media, ensuring independent courts and guaranteeing the right to form associations.
"We would like the elections to be as open as possible, so that for example Solidarity candidates could compete with government candidates, but it seems that the government wants to avoid such competition," Onyszkiewicz said at a news conference.
"The authorities expect our approval of an electoral procedure proposed for the nearest elections that will not be 100 percent democratic. And we did accept this principle," he said.
He said the proposal was made at the latest talks between authorities and opposition representatives on political and social reforms in Poland.
Jacek Kuron, a senior Solidarity adviser, said the opposition was also told at the talks the proposed election procedure would be a one-time proposition and that subsequent elections would be totally democratic.
But he cautioned, "A declaration as such has no significance. What is significant is (increasing) the broad democratic process" through other political reforms, he said.
Under the government proposal, each election district would have two to five seats.
The breakdown between the two camps was not discussed Saturday, Onyszkiewicz said. Party sources have said privately that they envision a system where 60 percent of the seats would be reserved for the party and its allies, and 40 percent to independent candidates linked to the Roman Catholic Church or Solidarity.
Anyone who collected 5,000 signatures could run for Parliament, but both sides would observe a "gentleman's agreement" not to run in each other's districts, a high-ranking party source said.