Minutes No. 64 from an Expanded Meeting of the PZPR CC [Central Committee of the Communist Party] Secretariat, June 5, 1989
The following are excerpts from a meeting of the leadership of Poland’s communist party held the day after the June 4, 1989 elections, when the magnitude of the party’s electoral defeat was just becoming clear. Particularly embarrassing was the fate of the 35 candidates on the so-called “national list,” well-known dignitaries who were running unopposed. Almost all were simply crossed out by a majority of voters, raising the prospect that those seats would have to be left empty, thus reducing the overall size of the Sejm (lower house). As remarks made at the meeting illustrate, some party leaders were disoriented and eager to place blame: on Solidarity, the Catholic church, even rank-and-file party members who had either failed to show up at the polls or had voted for the opposition. But for others, especially younger reformers like Aleksander Kwaśniewski (who later served as President of Poland from 1995-2005), this sense of bitterness was balanced by a sober assessment of the new situation and an eagerness to avoid violent confrontation. The Solidarity opposition, though sometimes described as “the adversary,” is also seen as a partner in containing social unrest.
Minutes No. 64
from an expanded meeting of the PZPR CC Secretariat of
held on June 5, 1989
S e c r e t
Comrades present: W. Jaruzelski, J. Czyrek, W. Baka, S. Ciosek, Z. Michalek, M.
Orzechowski, Z. Czarzasty, L. Miller, M. Stepien , B. Kolodziejczak.
Asent com. K. Cypryniak.
Com. M.F. Rakowski – Politburo member, Prime Minister
Com. K. Barcikowski – Politburo member, Deputy Chairman of the Council of State
Com. Cz. Kiszczak – Politburo member, minister of internal affairs
Com. A. Miodowicz – Politburo member, Chairman of OPZZ (Trade Unions)
Com. J. Reykowski – Politburo Member
Com. F. Siwicki – Politburo member – minister of national defense
Com. J. Kubasiewicz – associate Politburo member, first secretary of the Warsaw PZPR
Com. Z. Sobotka – associate Politburo member
Com. I. Sekula – Deputy Prime Minister
Com. A. Gdula – division chief, secretary of the Law and Order Commission
Com. M. Lubczynski – division chief, secretary of the Commission of Party Work
Com. E. Szymanski – division chief, secretary of the Commission of Representative
Com. A. Kwasniewski – minister, chairman of the Social-Political Committee of The Council of Ministers
Com. J. Urban – minister, president of the Radion Committee
Com. J. Bisztyga – press spokesman of the CC PZPR
An exchange of views on the first round of elections to the Sejm and Senate.
Com. W. Jaruzelski stated at the beginning that the election results are very bad for the
coalition. What should be done right away in the nearest days?
- in today’s TV newscast a statement preceding the official election results decide who will speak;
- today a meeting with the allies;
- on June 6 hold a Politburo meeting and a conference with first secretaries of the Voivodship Committees;
- consider different dates for a CC meeting (in an extraordinary procedure
before June 18, after June 18), take 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
- hold informational meetings with the Ambassadors accredited to Warsaw;
- consider the advisability of going ahead or postponing the planned visits
of the chairman of the Council of State in London and Brussels and
President Mitterrand’s visit to Poland.
Com. Czarzasty said the analysis of the election shows that they had 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.
The Voivodship committees are signaling that the clergy, particularly on election day,
were calling to vote for "S". Youth participation in the election was very small.
Com. 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 had decided earlier who to vote for.
Now the most important thing is to master moods in the party and in the whole 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.
Establish urgently contacts with the Church, but also with the leadership of the opposition
(decide on the forms and levels). Hold urgently a meeting of the Commission on
Realize visits in London and Belgium, but postpone Mitterrand’s visit to our country.
Com. S. Ciosek – Today someone from the leadership or com. Urban should appear on
TV. He is signaling a mood of depression among the engaged journalists.
Com. Cz. Kiszczak – The adversary has been fighting acutely from beginning to the 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, 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% of mandates in the
Sejm would not provide sufficient protection for the coalition, as it is known that "S"
stands behind some of our candidates (e.g. Fiszbach in Gdansk). This is true not only of
party members, but also SD and ZSL members. This needs to be taken into consideration.
Com. Kiszczak acknowledged that the visits planned earlier should be realized.
Com. F. Siwicki explained that in all closed military districts the military (not the staff)
had voted on the average 52-62% for the national list. Com. Kiszczak added that similar
indicators, or even higher, up to 70-72% was true of the on-the-Vistula units, WOP and
Com. J. Urban was of the opinion that there should be a statement on the TV news of a
commentary nature and not a communiquJ from the Secretariat meeting, which can be
given separately. The statement should emphasize that independently of the results we
are for accepting a broad reform coalition, that all extreme attempts would be dangerous.
Geremek stated at a press conference that they are not interested in a coalition with the
present system of government.
Com. J. Czyrek – A statement on TV should be agreed on with the allies and made on
behalf of the coalition. Com. 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%, which proves that we are not
altogether in isolation. Warn the opposition against the possibility of destabilization
under the influence of success.
Com. W. Baka proposed to emphasize 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 at the situation in China.
Hold the XIII CC plenary meeting at the turn of June and July and present there the
Com. W. Jaruzelski – Urgently prepare who is going to appear on TV today. Perhaps
spokesmen of PZPR, ZSL and SD. Perhaps com. Urban or com. Reykowski.
Com. A. Kwasniewski emphasized that a matter extremely important 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 should have peaceful character, without triumphalism.
Com. J. Urban proposed that com. Kiszczak should appear on TV as a host of the "round
Com. Kiszczak suggested that com. Urban might appear, that on this matter it’s
appropriate to consult with Onyszkiewicz.
Com. M.F. Rakowski – Com. Kwasniewski might also appear as chairman of the SocioPolitical Committee of the Council of Ministers, or com. J. Bisztyga as a press
spokesman of the CC PZPR.
Com. A. Gdula – It’s enough if com. Bisztyga appears. He informed that Kuron in
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
necessity to secure peace.
Com. W. Jaruzelski – We don’t know how the "Solidarity" base will behave. Consider a
simultaneous speech by spokesmen for the PZPR, ZSL and SD.
Com. K. Barcikowski thinks that from the "S" side there will be high-level spokesmen, so
he proposes com. Kwasniewski or Urban from our side.
Com. J. Bisztyga – We can propose to Onyszkiewicz to appear with me, or with the
participation of spokesmen for the ZSL and SD.
Com. Cz. Kiszczak – Present them with three variants: com. Kwasniewski, com. Urban or
com. Bisztyga with colleagues from the coalition.
Com. Kwasniewski thought that if from the "S" side will come up Onyszkiewicz, then
from our side J. Bisztyga should appear. The most important matter are talks with "S" on
joint efforts to prevent loosen public feelings to the extent that neither side will be able to
control. Let’s not disregard the moods in small centers, in very modern plants.
He thought it advisable to hold urgently a meeting of the Prime Minister with the chief of
Com. Z. Sobotka – He favors a TV appearance by com. Kwasniewski.
Com. J. Bisztyga – Some youth groups may behave like after a victorious match. No
appearance is going to silence euphoria. It would be good if com. Kwasniewski would
Com. S. Ciosek – It would be best if Bisztyga and Onyszkiewicz would appear
simultaneously. Inform our allies of this and obtain their authorization.
Com. M.F. Rakowski recognized that a plenary meeting should be called for urgently, still
this week. Election results and in particular the results of voting for the national list will
hit the party strongly. Consider how we are going to react to the loss of the party and
state leadership. What may be the consequences of this defeat?
Talks with the opposition are necessary. My meeting with Walesa should be considered.
Geremek is talking about a change in the system of exercising power.
Com. J. Reykowski – Absolutely hold a talk of the party leadership with the OPZZ.
Geremek mentioned in a conversation 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 for the introduction of an amendment to the electoral law, which would
enable candidates from the national list to run in the second round.
Com. 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
Com. J. Czyrek – It has been considered with Kuron how to resolve the situation if
candidates from the national list won’t get elected. Then, based on a legal act, those 35
candidates would run again within that 65% pool.
Com. 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 once again, it’s going to be a total discredit.
Com. A. Kwasniewski – Repetition of the national list in the second round is unacceptable.
It was crossed out also by our people. There is no guarantee it would pass [the second
time]. We need to agree with the opposition that within the 65% pool we will transfer one
mandate to each electoral district. This is the only chance. The national list has been a
mistake and it should not be repeated. An important matter is to conduct an analysis on
who are those who didn’t participate in the elections and by what motives they were
guided. Is it a passive resistance? It’s well known that also party members were crossing
out our candidates.
The plenary meeting should be called in fast. Consider convening a party congress.
Com. Cz. Kiszczak – An important and urgent matter is to ensure attendance in the second
round. Hold the plenary meeting later.
Com. J. Kubasiewicz – In the first place hold consultations with CC members, then the
Com. A. Gdula – Hold consultations with CC members very soon and the plenary
meeting towards the end of the month. Present at it a penetrating assessment of the
domestic situation and motions for the party work.
There 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.
Com. L. Miller expressed anxiety over the condition of the party. Part of it didn’t support
their own candidates. In the second round attendance may be weak. Also our trade unions
and social organizations didn’t support us. We have to keep in mind that as triumphalism
of the opposition rises, frustration in the party will be rising too. Any effort which we put
into the campaign is disproportional to the results.
Com. J. Urban – Don’t renew the national list as 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 that part of the apparatus (party, state) voted for "S"
are results of voting in Ulan-Bator, 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 down moods and present further perspectives.
The CC plenum should be held soon despite some risk. Postponing it would be evidence
of paralysis of the party structures, of a crisis. 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.
Com. Cz. Kiszczak – We are faced with the campaign to elect a president. Examine if the
plenum can help or hurt us in this. It’s worth pondering on this, it’s very important.
Com. Z. Michalek – The election result is a crisis of confidence in us. Initiate talks with
the opposition to save the names on the national list. Hold consultations with CC
members fast. Postpone the plenum. Define the tasks for party members in the second
round of elections. Conduct an assessment of efficiency of the regional apparatus on the
basis of the election campaign.
Com. M. Stepien - Postpone discussion on the reasons for the present situation to another
time. Today the most important question is to master the moods in the party by direct
contacts by the leadership members. He proposed that the Politburo turns to all party
members with a letter announcing a plenum and a congress.
Com. E. Szymanski – Negotiate with the opposition a legal procedure which would enable
candidates from the national list to run in the second round of elections.
Com. I. Sekula – The election results prove that the society wants changes. The party has
started the process of changes, but is conducting them very slowly, not radically. We
have not fulfilled expectations; that is why "S" has won.
Com. Z. Czarzasty – We need to strive for a renewed voting for the national list, with
different names, through a decree by the Council of State.
At the plenary meeting tell about a congress (towards the year’s end or March 1990),
initiate discussion on a program, statute, the name of the party, a vision for changes.
Com. A. Kwasniewski – A plenum within a short period is necessary. Losing the national
list is putting the party leadership in a dramatic situation. Resume urgently negotiations
with the opposition relating to the national list, president, government. Hold talks on
these matters with the Church. Only after negotiating and working out a position on these
major questions set the date for the plenum, talks about congress.
Com. B. Kolodziejczak – We cannot convene the plenum without having a position on the
president and government, and an assessment of the situation. If the plenum is going to
be prepared as the election campaign was, its result can be foreseen. We have to draw
conclusions with the mistakes made by us, present to CC members a comprehensive
analysis of the reasons for the situation that has arisen. Talks with the opposition
regarding a president must be conducted reliably.
Com. F. Siwicki – Convene the plenum when 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. Resume urgently consultations with the opposition on the selection of the
national list by a simple majority of votes. Start an evaluation of the situation in the basic
cells of the party. Square up with the youth organizations for their participation in the
election campaign, with conclusions. The most urgent questions are consultations with
the opposition regarding the national list, government, president.
Com. J. Reykowski – The party turned out to be weak. What has happened is a result of a
joint mistake in assessing the situation. Now the most important thing is the security of
the state, president.
Com. Z. Sobotka – Very urgently turn to party members. Triumphing [sic] by "S" has
already started. Soon pressure will mount for removing 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 preparations, recently we have not been seeking their advice on important
decisions. Urgently hold consultations with CC members, and have the plenum at a later
Com S. Ciosek – I don’t understand the reasons for the defeat. The party has to pay for it,
it didn’t follow us. It’s 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 a protection for the whole system, it’s not only our internal
matter, it’s a matter of the whole socialist commonwealth, even of Europe. On this matter
seek urgent talks with the opposition (Commission for an Understanding) and with the
Church. Guilt is on our side. 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.
Com. Z. Michalek – What does it mean -- radical changes in the party?
Com. M.F. Rakowski – We had a false assessment of the situation. The first secretaries of
the Voivodship Committees had estimated our chances better. And the conclusion is that
the perception of the moods, of what people think, is weak, that theaktiv, the party are not
connected with the masses. We cannot use the thesis that the party has not backed us up.
It’s false. The fact is that the party has not proved to be a mobile force. There was a lack
of awareness that crossing out of their own people would cause self-destruction.
There is a fear that there may be strikes, wage pressures, demonstrations, which will
complicate the economic situation even more.
One 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 of the party,
but this has not been noticed. And we need to go even further.
Talks 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
tremendous impact outside (USSR, Hungary, other countries). This may lead to
upheavals in the whole camp, this must be driven to social awareness. We need to draw
all conclusions from the fact that considerable part of the society said "no".
Com. K. Barcikowski – In the analyses point out the reasons for the relatively low
electionturn out. Who are those who have not voted, by what were they motivated? In
part they were also party members. One of the reasons was the personal formula of the
Do 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 to expect from the opposition now? It will make
an assault – at national councils, at territorial self-government. Seek urgently talks on the
question of the 35 mandates, president and the government. They are also afraid of the
power falling apart.
Com. W. Jaruzelski suggested to adopt the following findings:
- on June 6th hold a Politburo meeting, and in the afternoon a conference
with the first secretaries of the Voivodship 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 Walesa,
- urgently hold a meeting of the Commission on an Understanding of the
- hold talks with the Church (modo privato), possibly a meeting with
- set the date for the XIII plenum in consultation with the first secretaries of
the Voivodship Committees,
- submit for decision by the Politburo and consultations with the first
secretaries of the Voivodship Committees the matters of visits to Belgium
and England and president Mitterand in Poland,
- send out to all party members a letter of the Politburo (submit the draft to
the first secretaries of the Voivodship Committees).
50% 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, draw
conclusions. A considerable portion of the party is state administration, employees of the
justice system – how to reach them? (staffing quickly vacant positions in the Supreme
Court – com. Gdula). Think what to do to uplift in spirit the people engaged on our side,
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.
Comrades: Reykowski, Stepien , Czarzasty, Tabkowski will prepare tomorrow a draft
letter from the Politburo to party members (encl. No. 1) [Omitted]
Recorded by: Bozena Lopatniuk
S e c r e t
Urgent decisions of the CC PZPR Secretariat
of June 5, 1989
- Work out a formula preceding the announcement of the official
results of elections to the Sejm and Senate, e.g. by presenting in
today’s TV newscast a signal – a preliminary political commentary
on the expected results of the first round of elections. Responsible:
J. Urban, J. Bisztyga.
- A calendar of the nearest political measures and initiatives: on June
5 – meeting of the working Secretariat of the Central Election
Commission, on June 6 – a Politburo meeting (at 10 a.m.);
- a) work out a draft letter to the party – responsible: J. Reykowski,
Z. Czarzasty, M. Stepien , S. Tabkowski, K. Barcikowski;
b) a conference with first secretaries of the Voivodship
Committees (at 3 p.m.)
c)a meeting of the Prime Minister with Walesa;
- a meeting of the Central Commission on Cooperation of PZPR,
ZSL and SD (possibly soon);
- a CC PZPR plenum (the date to be decided after the Politburo and
conference with the first secretaries of the Voivodship
Committees), preceded by a possible information-consultative
meeting with CC members;
- Working contacts with Church representatives (correlated with a
meeting of com. General with J. Glemp);
- Appropriate "contacts" preceding a possible meeting of the
Commission for an understanding of the "round table" (among
others to negotiate – determine the manner of supplemental
elections in the second round of voting, 35 coalition deputies as an
equivalent of the "national list");
- Information for the Ambassadors of states – accredited in Warsaw;
- Analyze all aspects of the planned visits by the General in Belgium
and Great Britain and a visit by F. Mitterand.
- Urgently propose the selection of judges to the Supreme Court (for
vacant positions). Responsible: A. Gdula.
- For consideration: what measures to take to enhance and keep in
good shape the workers of the information-propaganda front (the
press, radio, TV). Responsible: M.F. Rakowski, S. Ciosek, S.
Tabkowski, J. Urban, first secretaries of the Voivodship
Translated by Jan Chowaniec for The National Security Archive, George
[Source: PZPR 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]
"Minutes No. 64 from an expanded meeting of the PZPR CC Secretariat of held on June 5, 1989," trans. Jan Chowaniec, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).