WARSAW, OCT. 23 -- The Polish parliament today enacted a major government reorganization curtailing the central bureaucracy and it approved plans for a referendum next month in which Poles will be asked to vote for both a "radical cure" for the economy and a communist model for "democratization of political life."
The actions represented the first step by the government of Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski in its drive to implement a program of major economic and political revisions announced earlier this month. They also established the framework for what officials say will be an intensive effort to win public tolerance for drastic price increases and other austerity measures that are a crucial part of the plan.
Under the referendum plan revealed in the parliament today after weeks of internal government debate, Poles will be asked if they are "for the full implementation of the program of radical healing of the economy, . . . knowing that it requires going through a difficult two or three-year period of quick change."
A second question will ask if voters are for "the Polish model of profound democratization of political life," which is explained as a move to "expand the rights of citizens and increase their participation in ruling the country."
Goverment officials portrayed the referendum, scheduled for Nov. 29, as both a crucial test for the reform program and an unprecedented expansion of democracy. However, the official questions approved today quickly came under criticism from opposition activists, who said they were vague and offered voters no meaningful choice.
Western analysts here said the initiative seemed designed to bolster the political legitimacy of Jaruzelski's government by indicating support for its modest program of political changes, which contrasts sharply with platforms put forward by the banned Solidarity trade union and the Roman Catholic Church.
In a press conference tonight, a senior Communist Party official, Politburo member Kazimierz Barcikowski, said that even if a majority voted against the government political model described in the second question, "policies would remain close to that being implemented now."
At the same time, the question on economic revision seemed design to allow authorities to claim a mandate for enforcing tough measures. "This is a decisive moment in the work of modernizing our country," said Jerzy Ozdowski, the deputy speaker of the parliament, in introducing the questions. "Never before has so much depended on the decision of educated citizens."
The economic program, announced at a parliamentary session two weeks ago, includes measures cutting back state management and introducing many principles of market capitalism, such as sales of stocks and bonds and bankruptcy for unprofitable firms.
To stabilize Poland's shortage-wracked domestic market, it forsees drastic cuts in government subsidies that could raise inflation as high as 57 percent next year, according to official calculations. Although authorities have said there will be no overall fall in living standards as a result, they have also warned that many Poles will be adversely affected by the shake-up.
An annex attached today to the referendum questions that is intended to inform voters does not detail the plans for price increases or accompanying wage compensation. Instead, it lists a number of overall goals for the economy, such as linking income to meritorious work, increasing housing construction and protecting the environment.
In the political sphere, it promises that if voters approve the government "democratization model," election procedures will be revised to eliminate built-in preferences for official candidates. It also forsees "the removal of restrictions on association," a revision of the legal system increasing checks on police and government actions, and the granting of financial and legal autonomy to city and neighborhood governments, freeing them from the dictate of central authorities.
The initial reorganization measures enacted today will mean the consolidation of 16 ministries into eight new ones and the elimination of more than 3,000 of the 12,000 bureaucratic posts devoted to central management of the economy. Officials said more than half of the nearly 200 government positions at or above the rank of vice minister would be eliminated.
Economists here said the reorganization should curtail some of the detailed management of state industries by ministry officials in Warsaw and allow individual enterprises in many fields more freedom to manage their own affairs. However, they pointed out that the reorganization preserved extensive centralized control of two key industries -- coal mining and energy production -- in a major concession to bureaucratic interests.
Another important move in the new program is expected Saturday when new ministers will be named to accompany the new structure. Parliamentary sources said several ranking officials who have resisted radical economic changes in the past will lose their posts, while the architect of the new program, Deputy Prime Minister Zdzislaw Sadowski, will be placed in control of the Planning Commission, until now a conservative bastion.