MOSCOW, FEB. 14 -- Communist Party activists proposed in an article on the front page of Pravda today that more than one candidate run for top party posts and that all party members be allowed to vote.
The suggestions, appearing in the party's main newspaper, came from party activists in the Ukraine, and while they do not have formal party approval, their appearance on Pravda's front page indicated their serious consideration by party leadership.
In its report on a meeting of Kiev University Communists, Pravda said there would be a diversity of views if more than one candidate ran for party first secretary. "What will remain is a struggle of opinions, a debate, a search for alternatives, variations and a choice of the best among them," Pravda said.
Pravda also carried a suggestion that all Communists take part in the voting, not just the members of party committees, and that the balloting be conducted secretly.
These electoral changes, the newspaper said, would help make top party officials more accountable to the people, and eliminate the "cult of personality" that surrounds them.
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has said electoral reform will be a key topic at the 19th All-Union Party Conference in June, a rare gathering of the nation's Communists to be held in Moscow. At a meeting of the party's Central Committee in January 1986, Gorbachev raised the issue of secret ballots and discussed the possibilities of multicandidate elections for top party officials.
The Soviet leader has also criticized the system that allows bureaucrats to remain in party posts for life while performing little work, and discussed broadening the nomination procedure for government elections.
Some of the suggestions have been adopted experimentally. Last June, multiple-candidate elections for local party posts were held in several areas. The government called the system democratization, although all candidates must be approved by the Communist Party, and no other parties can be created.
In the June experiments, party members in one of every 25 voting districts chose among more than one candidate for local governing councils. Run-off elections were held in 59 of the Soviet Union's 52,000 districts because of tie votes.
Similar changes in the work-place include approval last June of competitive elections for managers of state enterprises, to make them more accountable.