Gorbachev Confronts Resistance At Congress
Says Party Is Largely Against Restructuring
MOSCOW--Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev said yesterday that most communists have rejected his plan to break the party chief's job he holds into two and radically restructure other party organs to make them more democratic.
Although Gorbachev may eventually get his way, his admission that the tide is turning against him underscored how much control he has lost over party policy.
At the time, it reflected his skill at sensing the mood of the meeting, the 28th Soviet Congress, where he is trying to balance the demands of radical reformers and hard-liners.
Party rules to be voted on at the congress, which began yesterday, would revamp what have traditionally been the Soviet Union's most powerful political institutions, including Gorbachev's post as party general secretary.
Whatever is decided will not affect Gorbachev's other job as president.
Changes that Gorbachev has proposed would replace the general secretary--his present party title--with a party chair and first secretary. The chair, assisted by a deputy chair, would set overall party direction while the secretary would manage the party's daily affairs.
In addition, the party's top body, the Politburo, would be renamed and expanded, thus diluting the power of each present Politburo member. The Politburo, now made up of 12 voting and seven non-voting members, would be renamed the Presidium, with about 30 members.
In his keynote speech, Gorbachev said he had learned in discussions with delegates that "a majority of Communists are for the [creation] not of a party chairman and his deputies and the Presidium, but for preserva- tion of the post of general secretary, hisdeputy as a number two party figure, and thePolitburo."
Applause that followed his remark indicatedwide support for sticking to the current partystructure.
The only change Gorbachev indicated mostCommunists would support would be a designation ofthe number two party official as deputy generalsecretary. Such a post has existed only informallyin the past.
Gorbachev said the issue would be discussedfurther at the congress, scheduled to last untilJuly 12.
It was not clear where the critics referred toby by Gorbachev fit in the political spectrum. Ifthey are conservatives, that would correspond totheir earlier demands that Gorbachev leave the topparty job altogether, in favor of someone whocould devote full time to the post.
Gorbachev's only explanation for the criticismwas that some Communists believed the proposedPresidium would not be as "energetic." He did notelaborate.
Gorbachev has been pushing for the newstructure, as well as other changes, to make thepary more democratic and responsive to themembership and the people at large.
At a meeting of the party's policy-makingCentral Committee in March, he said the Presidiumwould be a "broader executive body" made up ofworkers, peasants, intellectuals, serviceman,party veterans and and heads of the 15 republics'Communist parties.
The Politburo now has 12 full and sevennon-voting members. Gorbachev has already easedsome conservatives off the body, and has shiftedsome of its decision-making functions to popularlyelected bodies