At the plenary meeting of the cpsu Central Committee which took place in January 1987, Mikhail Gorbachev made several proposals of considerable potential significance. Most striking was his call for the introduction of multiple candidacy and secret balloting both in local government and in party elections. Gorbachev spoke of

the need to think of changing the procedure for the election of secretaries of district, area, city, regional and territorial party committees and the central committees of the communist parties of the Union republics. Comrades suggest that secretaries, including first secretaries, should be elected by secret ballot at the plenary sessions of the respective party committees. In that case, members of the party committee would have the right to enter any number of candidacies on the voting list. 1