President Mikhail Gorbachev said recent parliamentary elections in which several key Communist Party officials were rejected by voters was a demonstration of "people's power" and proved his reforms have widespread support.
But Gorbachev, in a speech released Thursday, told a meeting of newspaper and media editors that the reforms would stall if the nation failed to resolve its food crisis. Excerpts of the meeting on Wednesday were released late Thursday by the official Tass news agency.In his remarks, Gorbachev spoke at length on the election of a new Congress of People's Deputies and reaffirmed that the Communist Party would remain at the vanguard of Soviet political life and that no multiparty system would be tolerated.
He said Sunday's first multicandidate elections in seven decades demonstrated "what immense opportunities are contained within socialist democracy, within our system of people's power for the expression of views, interests and approaches."
Several key Communist Party officials were rejected by voters and a number of populist candidates, including nationalists in the Baltics, won by large margins. "Democratism is determined not by the number of parties but by the part people play in society," Gorbachev said.
Despite the diversity of views expressed during the election campaign, he said, voters had not questioned the need for reforms but favored his program.
"We cannot be, we should not be, naive daydreamers," Gorbachev said. "Without democracy and glasnost, there is no prestroika. But in the same way, we should protect it against those who palm unseemly slogans off on us."
Diplomats said his remark was a warning both to conservative opponents and those in favor even more radical changes.
Gorbachev stressed the importance of agriculture as a key to prog-ress in the overall reform plan. He said party organizations and the media had to organize control over the implementation of farm reforms adopted at a party plenum earlier in the month.