Newly reelected party leader Stanislaw Kania closed Poland's historic emergency Communist Party congress today with a call for the party to move from words to actions, lest "history might call us those who talked Poland to death."
In a move to reassure the Kremlin, which has been watching the past week's developments in Poland closely, Kania also reiterated in his closing speech what has now become almost a ritual pledge: "Poland is and will remain an unshakable ally of the Soviet Union and the socialist commonwealth. This is the will of our entire party and our entire nation."
The Polish power structure that has emerged from the six-day congress, with representatives of the party base holding a majority of elected places in the policy-making Central Committee and a significant share of the ruling Politburo, looks very different from the traditional apparatchik-dominated leaderships familiar in other East European countries.
At the same time, the previous leadership under Edward Gierek has been formally accused of irresponsibility in bringing on Poland's political and economic crisis, of amassing too much power and ignoring grassroots opinion.
But Western analysts said it remains an open question whether Poland's inexperienced politicians will succeed in controlling the professional apparatus or resolving stormy new conflicts ahead between the authorities and the independent Solidarity trade union.
In its final session today, the congress, which lasted two days longer than originally planned, voted to change the party's statutes in an attempt to prevent the accumulation of power by small political cliques. The statute changes completed what appeared to be a political victory of Poland's 3 million rank-and-file communists over the once all-powerful party bureaucracy.
The first test of the new leadership could come later this week. Solidarity chapters have announced two major strikes, by longshoremen demanding improved work conditions and by airline workers seeking the right to nominate their own director. But Solidarity officials said negotiations over both disputes had been resumed and there was a good chance of the strikes being called off.
Warning that "the motherland is in need," the congress addressed an appeal to the nation for a joint effort to avert what it described as "a danger to the safe existence of the nation and the future of the state."
The most important change in the party statutes, or binding rules of procedure, was a principle subordinating the party apparatus to its elected bodies. The party bureaucracy will be reviewed periodically to see that it is not overstepping its powers.
In most communist countries, Poland included, power has traditionally been exercised by a small political clique or single leader, and decisions have been transmitted through the central committee's powerful secretariat and heads of departments. The decisions are then ratified by plenary sessions of a subservient central committee in the name of the entire party.
This system has now been dismantled here, but it is not yet clear what has taken its place. Power is no longer concentrated in the hands of a single individual, as it was in Gierek's day, and the Central Committee is no longer handpicked on the basis of personal loyalties.
On the other hand, because the ruling 15-man Politburo is no longer composed exclusively of professional career politicians, its influence could decline in relation to the seven-man Secretariat. Many Politburo members will retain their old jobs in factories or provincial party organizations and will only come to Warsaw for weekly meetings.
By contrast, the secretaries, all of whom are professional party workers, will live in Warsaw and assume day-to-day responsibility for running the huge bureaucracy, which itself controls the government. The key secretariat posts -- for party affairs, mass media and security -- are all in the hands of experienced and career apparatchiks trusted by Moscow.
Other key passages in the draft statute include a guarantee of free discussion at all levels of the party -- a confirmation of the changes that have taken place since last summer's upheavals -- a limitation of office tenure for party leaders and a provision allowing the congress to be reconvened if the rank and file grows dissatisfied with the leadership.