The Communist Party Central Committee on Friday endorsed accords reached in talks with the Solidarity-led opposition and announced a convention in May to prepare for new democratic elections.
The party leadership also named a spokesman who said he would try to shed more light on the party's inner workings, and it announced an internal reorganization in which the closed party administrative departments will be replaced by commissions open to participation by non-party members.The meeting of the 230-member Central Committee came nearly two months into the unprecedented "round-table" talks with the opposition.
Achieving a formal social contract has been delayed by several unresolved issues, and Solidarity spokesmen had hoped the plenum would provide an impetus to solve them.
There was little detailed information given on the party's decisions regarding the talks, aside from a general statement approving the negotiations and expressing hope for a successful ending.
"The Central Committee approved the agreements so far accepted at the round table on the main problems of accelerating and expanding reforms," said the resolution, read on state TV.
"It expressed hope that the talks . . . will be crowned with the conclusion of a social contract on the most vital problems for the nation and the socialist state, and that problems not agreed so far should be settled with a feeling of responsibility" for political and economic stability.
The new party spokesman, Jan Bisztyga, said in an interview with The Associated Press that the plenum gave "a mandate to the negotiators to look for a way out" of the impasse.
But he said obstacles should be removed "on both sides," taking into account "on one hand the need for democratization and on the other hand the need to strengthen the state."
Party First Secretary Wojciech Jaruzelski told the Central Committee it is "hard to make a final unambiguous evaluation" of the talks, according to the official news agency PAP. "We expect that they will be capped with reaching agreement."
Jaruzelski said the May 4-5 party conference should confirm the party's will "to carry out a program of broad political and socioeconomic reforms and have a mobilizing influence on party members."
"In a word, it must play the role of our great election convention," he said.
If the tentative agreement with the opposition is ratified, communist candidates will face for the first time in postwar Poland direct electoral competition from opposition candidates for seats in a newly created senate. Jaruzelski has said the party must prepare itself for such a democratic test.
Bisztyga, a party activist who described himself as "a politician, not a clerk," told state TV he is ready to "present more openly to the society in the mass media everything concerning party activities."
"Society should know much more about this party, which bears the burden of responsibility for the processes taking place today," he said.
Replacing the party departments with 15 commissions in different policy areas is another step toward opening up the party, Bisztyga said.
Non-party experts would be invited to work with the commissions as "consultants," PAP said.