Version classiqueVersion mobile

Masterpieces of History

Svetlana Savranskaya
Thomas Blanton
Vladislav Zubok


Document No. 61: Transcript of CC PUWP Secretariat Meeting June 5, 1989

Traduction de Dr. Jan Chowaniec

Texte intégral

1On the day after Solidarity’s sweep of Poland’s first open elections since communist rule, ultimately netting the union 99 of 100 Senate seats, the Polish party leaders vent their shock and dismay in this transcript from the Polish archives, opened in the 1990s. The Secretariat’s members rant that this has been “a bitter lesson,” “the aktiv and the party are not connected with the masses,” “[w]e trusted the Church, and they have turned out to be Jesuits,” and “50 percent of our party now consists of all sorts of managers and retirees” who were unable to show any “self-protective instinct in the elections.” Aleksander Kwaśniewski (who would later be elected president of Poland in the 1990s as the country joined NATO) remarks that even “party members were crossing out our candidates” on the ballots. (In fact, only two of 35 party candidates survived the epidemic of X’s).

2Like Gorbachev, the Polish communists have no idea of the degree to which the “System” has already lost its legitimacy. Also like Gorbachev, they believe they can still enact reforms and frame a modified arrangement with the opposition in which the party would retain the leading role. But the whole edifice is coming down around them, and even in their current state of shock these Polish officials understand there is no choice but to negotiate a coalition government, and they specifically “[w]arn against attempts at destabilization, pointing at the situation in China.” By contrast, on the same day as the Polish elections, the Chinese Communist Party ordered the army to crush the popular demonstrations that took place on Tiananmen Square in Beijing—in effect, choosing the methods of 1956 and 1968. For Gorbachev and the Poles in 1989, that brutal approach was the road not taken.


3The Agenda:

4An exchange of views on the first round of elections to the Sejm and Senate.

5Cde. W. Jaruzelski stated at the beginning that the election results are very bad for the coalition. What should be done right away in the next few days?

  • In today’s TV newscast, a statement preceding the official election results—decide who will speak;
  • Today, a meeting with the allies;
  • June 6, hold a Politburo meeting and a conference with first secretaries of the Voivodeship committees;
  • Consider different dates for a CC meeting (in an extraordinary procedure before June 18, after June 18), adopt a decision at the Politburo, set dates for consultations with CC members;
  • Get in touch and hold talks with the Church hierarchy, consider a meeting with Primate J. Glemp. The Church is the major culprit in the situation that has arisen;
  • Hold informational meetings with ambassadors accredited to Warsaw;
  • Consider the advisability of going ahead or postponing the planned visits of the chairman of the Council of State to London and Brussels and President Mitterrand’s visit to Poland.

6Cde. Czarzasty said an analysis of the election shows that they had the character of a plebiscite, a referendum, which we had not been assuming. So far full results of voting for the national list are not available.

7The Voivodeship committees are signaling that the clergy, particularly on election day, were issuing calls to vote for “S”. Youth participation in the election was very low.

8Cde. J. Czyrek assessed that electoral assumptions could not be met. The personal formula turned out to be ineffective. The result has been decided in the first round. The opposition is not interested in the second round. Forecasts of election turnouts also were not on target. The coalition side, the party itself, has proven ineffective in its campaigning and propaganda effort. The majority of voters decided beforehand whom to vote for.

9Now the most important thing is to master moods in the party and in the entire coalition. The allies are uneasy, “Solidarity” has already shown support for some of their candidates and it can still do it in the second round.

10Urgently establish contacts with the Church, but also with the leadership of the opposition (decide on the forms and levels). Urgently hold a meeting of the Commission on Understanding.

11Undertake visits to London and Belgium, but postpone Mitterrand’s visit to our country.

12Cde. S. Ciosek: Today someone from the leadership or Cde. Urban should appear on television. He is signaling a mood of depression among the engaged journalists.

13Cde. Cz. Kiszczak: The adversary has been fighting intensively from beginning to end, using different means. We have been acting with “white gloves,” without taking advantage of even obvious opportunities. Election results have exceeded the opposition’s expectations. They are shocked and don’t know how to behave. Elections to the Senate are a total disaster for us. The general had warned, we were saying that 65 percent of the mandates in the Sejm would not provide sufficient protection for the coalition since it is known that “S” stands behind some of our candidates (e.g. [Tadeusz] Fiszbach in Gdańsk). This is true not only of party members, but also of the SD [Democratic Party] and ZSL [United People’s Party]. This needs to be taken into consideration. […]

14Cde. Kiszczak acknowledged that the visits planned earlier should be undertaken.

  • 1 WOP (Wojska Ochrony Pogranicza) was the Border Defense Guard. ZOMO (Zmotoryzowane Odwody Milicji O (...)

15Cde. F. Siwicki explained that in all closed military districts the military (not the staff) voted on average 52-62 percent for the national list. Cde. Kiszczak added that similar indicators, or even higher, up to 70-72 percent, held for the Vistula units, WOP and ZOMO.1

16Cde. J. Urban was of the opinion that there should be a statement on the television news in the nature of a commentary and not a communique from the Secretariat meeting, which can be given separately. The statement should emphasize that independent of the results we are for accepting a broad reform coalition, and that all extreme measures would be dangerous.

17Geremek stated at a press conference that they are not interested in a coalition with the present system of government.

18Cde. J. Czyrek: A statement on TV should be agreed on with the allies and made on behalf of the coalition. Cde. Reykowski shared this point of view. He thought that in that statement it should be pointed out that the elections were democratic in preparation and implementation. Our electorate amounts to about 30 percent, which proves that we are not altogether in isolation. Warn the opposition against the possibility of destabilization under the influence of success.

19Cde. W. Baka proposed emphasizing in the statement that we had taken into account the unfavorable result. We are consistent, we have no other alternative. Warn against attempts at destabilization, pointing to the situation in China.

20Hold the XIII CC plenary meeting at the turn of June and July and present the party’s strategy there.

21Cde. W. Jaruzelski: Urgently prepare who is going to appear on TV today. Perhaps spokesmen from the PUWP, ZSL and SD. Perhaps Cde. Urban or Cde. Reykowski.

22Cde. A. Kwaśniewski emphasized that an extremely important matter after announcing the election results is to prevent spontaneous demonstrations, which neither side might be able to control. The opposition is also afraid of this. Get in touch with “S”, so that any appearances will be peaceful and without triumphalism.

23Cde. J. Urban proposed that Cde. Kiszczak should appear on TV as a host of the “Roundtable.”

24Cde. Kiszczak suggested that Cde. Urban might appear and that on this matter it is appropriate to consult with Onyszkiewicz.

25Cde. M.F. Rakowski: Cde. Kwaśniewski might also appear as chairman of the Socio-Political Committee of the Council of Ministers, or Cde. J. Bisztyga as a press spokesman of the CC PUWP

26Cde. A. Gdula: It is enough if Cde. Bisztyga appears. He informed that Kuroń in a telephone conversation had expressed concern about the central list. He mentioned that it would be advisable to convene the Commission on Understanding. He stressed the need to secure peace.

27Cde. W. Jaruzelski: We don’t know how the Solidarity base will behave. Consider a simultaneous speech by spokesmen for the PUWP, ZSL and SD.

28Cde. K. Barcikowski thinks that from the “S” side there will be high-level spokesmen, so he proposes Cdes. Kwaśniewski or Urban from our side.

29Cde. J. Bisztyga: We can propose to Onyszkiewicz that he appear with me, or with the participation of spokesmen for the ZSL and SD.

30Cde. Cz. Kiszczak: Present them with three variants: Cde. Kwaśniewski, Cde. Urban or Cde. Bisztyga with colleagues from the coalition.

31Cde. Kwaśniewski thought that if Onyszkiewicz’s name comes up from the “S” side, then J. Bisztyga should appear from our side. The most important matter are talks with “S” on joint efforts to prevent loose public feelings that neither side will be able to control. Let’s not disregard the mood in small centers and in very modern plants.

32He thought it advisable to hold an urgent meeting of the prime minister with the head of Solidarity.

33Cde. Z. Sobotka: He favors a TV appearance by Cde. Kwaśniewski.

34Cde. J. Bisztyga: Some youth groups may behave as after a victorious match. No appearance is going to silence euphoria. It would be good if Cde. Kwaśniewski would appear.

35Cde. S. Ciosek: It would be best if Bisztyga and Onyszkiewicz would appear simultaneously. Inform our allies of this and obtain their authorization.

36Cde. M.F. Rakowski recognized that a plenary meeting should be called urgently, this week. Election results and in particular the results of voting for the national list will hit the party hard. Consider how we are going to react to the loss of the party and state leadership. What might be the consequences of this defeat?

37Talks with the opposition are necessary. My meeting with Wałęsa should be considered. Geremek is talking about a change in the system of exercising power.

38Cde. J. Reykowski: Absolutely hold talks between the party leadership and the OPZZ. Geremek mentioned in a conversation that they would be willing to enter into the Presidential Council with people from the national list (he said so before the elections). If it is possible from the legal point of view, negotiate with the opposition to turn to the Supreme Court to introduce an amendment to the electoral law, which would enable candidates from the national list to run in the second round.

39Cde. J. Kubasiewicz: Hold talks with the opposition on the national list. Take into consideration that in the second round the opposition may support some candidates from our mandates.

40Cde. J. Czyrek: A discussion was held with Kuroi about how to resolve the situation if candidates from the national list do not get elected. Then, based on a legal act, those 35 candidates would run again within that 65 percent pool.

41Cde. K. Barcikowski: The main argument is a political agreement on the distribution of mandates. There is no possibility of repeating the national list in the second round because if they fail again it is going to result in total discredit.

42Cde. A. Kwaśniewski: Repetition of the national list in the second round is unacceptable. It was crossed out by our people as well. There is no guarantee it would pass [a second time]. We need to agree with the opposition that within the 65 percent pool we will transfer one mandate to each electoral district. This is the only chance. The national list was a mistake and it should not be repeated. An important matter is to analyze who did not participate in the elections and by what motives they were guided. Is this a passive resistance? It is well known that party members were also crossing out our candidates.

43The plenary meeting should be called quickly. Consider convening a party congress.

44Cde. Cz. Kiszczak: An important and urgent matter is to ensure participation in the second round. Hold the plenary meeting later.

45Cde. J. Kubasiewicz: In the first place hold consultations with CC members, then the plenum.

46Cde. A. Gdula: Hold consultations with CC members very soon and the plenary meeting towards the end of the month. Present a penetrating assessment of the domestic situation and motions for party work.

47There is little we can do about the national list. We cannot annul the elections. It is possible for the new Sejm to adopt an amendment to the electoral law and hold new elections, or issue a statement that the Sejm has 425 deputies. Also examine whether it might be possible to make a new distribution of mandates on the basis of an understanding between the parties.

48Cde. L. Miller expressed anxiety over the condition of the party. A segment of it did not support its own candidates. In the second round participation may be weak. Also our trade unions and social organizations did not support us. We have to keep in mind that as triumphalism within the opposition rises, frustration in the party will be rising too. Any effort which we put into the campaign will be disproportional to the results.

49Cde. J. Urban: Do not renew the national list since we would ridicule ourselves before our own base. Negotiate with the opposition over supplemental elections and the composition of the Sejm defined in the Constitution. The opposition should accept this proposal. Start these talks right away. An example of a part of the apparatus (party, state) voting for “S” can be found in the results in Ulaanbaatar, Pyongyang and Tirana. He recognized that meetings of the party leadership with the military circles, security apparatus and the mass media are urgently needed to calm moods and present further perspectives.

50The CC plenum should be held soon despite some risk. Postponing it would be evidence of paralysis in the party structures, of a crisis. The election results prove that the party in its present form has outlived itself. It needs an innovative political, ideological and organizational concept, otherwise there will be disintegration.

51Cde. Cz. Kiszczak: We are faced with the campaign to elect a president. Examine whether the plenum could help or hurt us in this. It is worth pondering this, it is very important.

52Cde. Z. Michalek: The election result represents a crisis of confidence in us. Initiate talks with the opposition to save the names on the national list. Hold consultations with CC members soon. Postpone the plenum. Define the tasks for party members in the second round of elections. Conduct an efficiency assessment of the regional apparatus on the basis of the election campaign.

53Cde. M. Stepieh: Postpone discussion on the reasons for the present situation till another time. Today the most important question is to master the moods in the party through direct contact by the leadership. He proposed that the Politburo turn to all party members with a letter announcing a plenum and a congress.

54Cde. E. Szymahski: Negotiate with the opposition a legal procedure which would enable candidates from the national list to run in the second round of elections.

55Cde. I. Sekula: The election results prove that society wants changes. The party has initiated the process of changing, but is conducting it very slowly, not radically. We have not fulfilled expectations; that is why “S” has won.

56Cde. Z. Czarzasty: We need to strive for a renewed vote for the national list, with different names, through a decree by the Council of State.

57At the plenary meeting talk about a congress (towards year’s end or March 1990), initiate discussion on a program, a statute, the name of the party, a vision for changes.

58Cde. A. Kwaśniewski: A plenum within a short period is necessary. Losing the national list is putting the party leadership in a dramatic position. Urgently resume negotiations with the opposition relating to the national list, the president, and the government. Hold talks on these matters with the Church. Set the date for the plenum and for talks about a congress only after negotiating and working out a position on these major questions.

59Cde. B. Kotodziejczak: We cannot convene the plenum without having a position on the president and the government, and an assessment of the situation. If the plenum is going to be prepared as the election campaign was, its result can be predicted. We have to draw conclusions based on the mistakes we made. Present a comprehensive analysis to CC members of the reasons for the situation that has arisen. Talks with the opposition regarding a president must be conducted reliably.

60Cde. F. Siwicki: Convene a plenum once we have a thorough analysis of the reasons [for the defeat] and a concept of the functioning of the state within a new configuration of political forces. Urgently resume consultations with the opposition on the selection of a national list by a simple majority of votes. Start an evaluation of the situation within basic party cells. Come to terms with the youth organizations regarding their participation in the election campaign, with conclusions. The most urgent questions are consultations with the opposition regarding the national list, the government, and the president.

61Cde. J. Reykowski: The party turned out to be weak. What has happened is the result of a joint mistake in assessing the situation. Now the most important thing is the security of the state and the president.

62Cde. Z. Sobotka: Turn very urgently to party members. The triumphing [sic] of “S” has already started. Soon pressure will mount to remove the party from the workplaces. Let’s not count too much on an understanding with the opposition. They have already got what they wanted and are not interested in the second round. Let’s not create a plenum without preparing for it. Lately we have not been seeking their advice on important decisions. Urgently hold consultations with CC members, then hold the plenum at a later date.

63Cde. S. Ciosek: I don’t understand the reasons for the defeat. The party has to pay for it, it didn’t follow us. It is a bitter lesson. Those responsible will have to bear the consequences. Now the most important question is the election of the president, for which we need 35 mandates—which were lost. On this we need to talk with the opposition, as the president is the protection for the entire system; it is not only our internal matter, it is a matter for the whole socialist commonwealth, even for Europe. On this matter seek urgent talks with the opposition (Commission on Understanding) and with the Church. The guilt belongs to us. We trusted the Church, and they have turned out to be Jesuits. We overestimated our possibilities and have turned out to be deprived of the base. We have to keep in mind that very soon various claims and pressures will be rising like an avalanche—e.g. against the mass media. Radical changes must take place in the party.

64Cde. Z. Michalek: What does that mean—radical changes in the party?

65Cde. M.F. Rakowski: We had a false assessment of the situation. The first secretaries of the Voivodeship committees estimated our chances better. And the conclusion is that the perception of moods, of what people think, is weak, that the aktiv and the party are not connected with the masses. We cannot use the thesis that the party has not backed us up. That is false. The fact is that the party has not proved to be a mobile force. There was a lack of awareness that crossing out their own people would cause self-destruction.

66There is a fear that there may be strikes, wage pressures, and demonstrations which will complicate the economic situation even more.

67One may agree with the notion that the plenum should not be held right now. But one needs to be aware that the party in its present structure is not in a position to stand up to current challenges. At the X plenum of the CC we proposed another model for the party, but this has not been noticed. And we need to go even further.

68Talks with the opposition are necessary. It has proven to be trustworthy. It has called all along for crossing out the national list. What has happened in Poland is going to have a tremendous impact abroad (USSR, Hungary, other countries). This may lead to upheavals in the whole camp; we have to make our society aware of this. We need to draw all conclusions from the fact that a considerable part of society said “no”.

69Cde. K. Barcikowski: In the analyses point out the reasons for the relatively low election turnout. Who are those who did not vote, how were they motivated? In part they were also party members. One of the reasons was the personal formula of the elections.

70Do we now have the right to take offense at the party? We have been managing it for the past 10 years. To whom should we then direct our claims? The same relates to the youth and social organizations. Examine this matter quietly, draw conclusions, ponder what to do to regain trust and how to do it. What should we expect from the opposition now? They will make an assault on the national councils and on territorial self-government. Urgently seek talks on the question of the 35 mandates, the president and the government. They are also afraid of power disintegrating.

71Cde. W. Jaruzelski suggested adopting the following findings:

  • On June 6 hold a Politburo meeting, and in the afternoon a conference with the first secretaries of the Voivodeship committees and division heads of the CC, jointly with the Politburo
  • Urgently seek talks with the opposition leadership, including a meeting of the prime minister with Wałęsa
  • Urgently hold a meeting of the Commission on Understanding of the “Roundtable”
  • Hold talks with the Church (modo privato), possibly a meeting with Primate Glemp
  • Set the date for the XIII plenum in consultation with the first secretaries of the Voivodeship committees
  • Submit for decision by the Politburo and consultations with the first secretaries of the Voivodeship committees the matters of visits to Belgium and England and a visit by President Mitterrand to Poland
  • Send a Politburo letter to all party members (submit the draft to the first secretaries of the Voivodeship committees).

72Fifty percent of our party now consists of all sorts of managers and retirees. Therefore it must be disquieting that just such a party (clerical) has not shown a self-protective instinct in the elections. This problem needs to be worked out in particular, and conclusions drawn. A considerable portion of the party consists of state administration and employees of the justice system. How can we reach them? (Quickly staff vacant positions on the Supreme Court—Cde. Gdula). Think about what to do to lift the spirits of the people engaged on our side and working in the mass media to convince them that they are not lost. Hold meetings with those groups at the central level (W. Jaruzelski, M. Rakowski) and in the regions.

73Cdes. Reykowski, Stepień, Czarzasty, Tabkowski will prepare a draft letter tomorrow from the Politburo to party members (encl. No. 1). [Omitted]

74[Source: PUWP Secretariat files, copies obtained by the Institute for Political Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences; published in Tajne dokumenty: Biura Politycznego i Sekretariatu KC, Ostatni rok wladzy 1988-1989 (London: Aneks Publishers, 1994) pp. 390-398] Translated by Dr. Jan Chowaniec.]


1 WOP (Wojska Ochrony Pogranicza) was the Border Defense Guard. ZOMO (Zmotoryzowane Odwody Milicji Obywatelskiej), the Mechanized Detachments of Citizens’ Police, was the security force relied upon to impose martial law in December 1981.

© Central European University Press, 2010

Conditions d’utilisation :


Volume papier
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search