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Encyclopedia > Soviet democracy
Part of the Politics series on
Communism

Basic concepts
Marxism
Mode of production
Internationalism
Class consciousness
Class struggle
General Strike
Communist revolution
World revolution
Workers Council
Politics is the process by which groups make decisions. ... This article is about communism as a form of society and as a political movement. ... Image File history File links Sickle. ... Marxism refers to the philosophy and social theory based on Karl Marxs work on one hand, and to the political practice based on Marxist theory on the other hand (namely, parts of the First International during Marxs time, communist parties and later states). ... In the writings of Karl Marx and the Marxist theory of historical materialism, a mode of production (in German: Produktionsweise, meaning the way of producing) is a specific combination of: productive forces: these include human labor-power, tools, equipment, buildings and technologies, materials, and improved land social and technical relations... International Socialism redirects here. ... Class consciousness is a category of Marxist theory, referring to the self-awareness of a social class, its capacity to act in its own rational interests, or measuring the extent to which an individual is conscious of the historical tasks their class (or class allegiance) sets for them. ... Class struggle is class conflict looked at from a Marxist, libertarian socialist, or anarchist perspective. ... A general strike is a strike action by an entire labour force in a city, region or country. ... It has been suggested that Proletarian revolution be merged into this article or section. ... World revolution is a Marxist concept of a violent overthrow of capitalism that would take place in all countries, although not necessarily simultaneously. ... A workers council is a council, or deliberative body, composed of working class or proletarian members. ...

Prominent Communists
Marx · Engels
Luxemburg . Lenin
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Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818, Trier, Germany – March 14, 1883, London) was a German philosopher, political economist, and revolutionary. ... Friedrich Engels (November 28, 1820, Wuppertal – August 5, 1895, London), a 19th-century German political philosopher, developed communist theory alongside his better-known collaborator, Karl Marx, co-authoring The Communist Manifesto (1848). ... Rosa Luxemburg Rosa Luxemburg (March 5, 1870 or 1871 – January 15, 1919, in Polish Róża Luksemburg) was a Polish-born German Marxist political theorist, socialist philosopher, and revolutionary. ... Vladimir Ilyich Lenin ( Russian: Влади́мир Ильи́ч Ле́нин  listen?), original surname Ulyanov (Улья́нов) ( April 22 (April 10 ( O.S.)), 1870 – January 21, 1924), was a... This is a list of the major figures in history who identified themselves as communists. ...

Schools of communism
Leninism · Trotskyism
Left communism
Council communism
Luxemburgism
Anarchist communism
Vladimir Lenin in 1920 Leninism refers to various related political and economic theories elaborated by Bolshevik revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin, and by other theorists who claim to be carrying on Lenins work. ... Trotskyism is the theory of Marxism as advocated by Leon Trotsky. ... Left Communism is a term describing a whole range of communist viewpoints which oppose the political ideas of the Bolsheviks from a position which is asserted to be more authentically Marxist and proletarian than the views held by the Communist International after its first two Congresses. ... Council communism is a Radical Left movement originating in Germany and the Netherlands in the 1920s. ... Luxemburgism (also written Luxembourgism) is a specific revolutionary theory within communism, based on the writings of Rosa Luxemburg. ... Anarchist communism is a form of anarchism that advocates the abolition of the State and capitalism in favor of a horizontal network of voluntary associations through which everyone will be free to satisfy his or her needs. ...

Communist internationals
Communist League
First International
Communist International
Communist Workers International
Fourth International
See Communist League (disambiguation) for other groups of the same name. ... The International Workingmens Association, sometimes called the First International, was an international organization which aimed at uniting a variety of different left-wing political groups and trade union organizations which were based on the working class. ... The first edition of Communist International, journal of the Comintern published in Moscow and Petrograd (now Saint Petersburg) in May 1919. ... The Communist Workers International (German: Kommunistische Arbeiter-Internationale, KAI) or Fourth Categories: ... The Fourth International (FI) is Trotskyisms international organization. ...

Related subjects
Socialism
Planned economy
Historical materialism
Marxian economics
Marxist philosophy
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
New Left
Socialism refers to a broad array of doctrines or political movements that envisage a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to social control. ... This box:      A planned economy is an economic system in which a single agency makes all decisions about the production and allocation of goods and services. ... Historical materialism is the methodological approach to the study of society, economics and history which was first articulated by Karl Marx (1818-1883), although Marx himself never used the term. ... Note: Marxian is not restricted to Marxian economics, as it includes those inspired by Marxs works who do not identify with Marxism as a political ideology. ... See also Marxian economics Marxist philosophy or Marxist theory designs work in philosophy which is strongly influenced by Karl Marxs materialist approach to theory or which is written by Marxists. ... The dictatorship of the proletariat is a term employed by Karl Marx in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program that refers to a transition period between capitalist and communist society in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. The term refers to a... The New Left is a term used to refer to radical left-wing movements from the 1960s onwards. ...

Communism Portal
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Democracy

This series is part of
the Politics and the
Forms of government series Politics is the process by which groups make decisions. ... A form of government (also referred to as a system of government or a political system) is a system composed of various people, institutions and their relations in regard to the governance of a state. ...




Politics Portal · edit The history of democracy traces back from its origins in ancient world to its re-emergence and rise from the 17th century to the present day. ... Here is a partial list of varieties of democracy. ... It has been suggested that Democracy (varieties) be merged into this article or section. ... Anticipatory democracy is a theory of civics relying on democratic decision making that takes into account predictions of future events that have some credibility with the electorate. ... The speakers platform in the Pnyx, the meeting ground of the assembly where all the great political struggles of Athens were fought during the Golden Age. Here Athenian statesmen stood to speak, such as Pericles and Aristides in the 5th century BC and Demosthenes and Aeschines in the 4th... Consensus democracy is the application of consensus decision making to the process of legislation. ... Deliberative democracy, also sometimes called discursive democracy, is a term used by political theorists, e. ... Direct democracy, classically termed pure democracy,[1] comprises a form of democracy and theory of civics wherein sovereignty is lodged in the assembly of all citizens who choose to participate. ... Liberal democracy is a form of government. ... Non-partisan democracy (also no-party democracy) is a system of representative government or organization such that universal and periodic elections (by secret ballot) take place without reference to political parties or even the speeches, campaigns, nominations, or other apparatus commonly associated with democracy. ... Participatory democracy is a broadly inclusive term for many kinds of consultative decision making which require consultation on important decisions by those who will carry out the decision. ... Representative democracy is a form of democracy founded on the exercise of popular sovereignty by the peoples representatives. ... Republican democracy is a republic which has democracy. ... Social democracy is a political ideology emerging in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from supporters of Marxism who believed that the transition to a socialist society could be achieved through democratic evolutionary rather than revolutionary means. ... Demarchy is a term coined by Australian philosopher John Burnheim to describe a political system without the state or bureaucracies, and based instead on randomly selected groups of decision makers. ...

For the Soviet republics of the Soviet Union, see Republics of the Soviet Union.

Soviet democracy is a form of democracy in which workers elect representatives in the organs of power called soviets (councils). According to Lenin and other Soviet ideologists, Soviets represent the democratic will of the working class. Evolution of the Soviet Republics from 1922 to 1958. ... A soviet (Russian: сове́т) originally was a workers local council in late Imperial Russia. ... Vladimir Ilyich Lenin ( Russian: Влади́мир Ильи́ч Ле́нин  listen?), original surname Ulyanov (Улья́нов) ( April 22 (April 10 ( O.S.)), 1870 – January 21, 1924), was a... The term working class is used to denote a social class. ...

Contents

History

Local workers' soviets elect representatives that go on to form regional soviets, which in turn elect representatives that form higher soviets, and so on up to the Congress of Soviets or later the Supreme Soviet, the highest legislative body of the entire country. This is a method of democracy through which the dictatorship of the proletariat can be exercised in large populations. Soviet democracy is democracy by proxy. This is to say that members of the soviets are close to those workers or lower soviet members that they represent and therefore can accurately translate the people's decisions into legislation. Initially the Soviets differed from a parliamentary democracy by having elements of direct democracy, since the representatives in the local soviets could in theory quickly be changed. A soviet (Russian: сове́т) originally was a workers local council in late Imperial Russia. ... The Congress of Soviets was the supreme governing body of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and the Soviet Union in two periods, from 1917 to 1936 and from 1989 to 1993. ... The Supreme Soviet (Russian: , Verhovniy Sovet, literally the Supreme Council) comprised the highest legislative body in the Soviet Union in the interim of the sessions of the Congress of Soviets, and the only one with the power to pass constitutional amendments. ... The dictatorship of the proletariat is a term employed by Karl Marx in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program that refers to a transition period between capitalist and communist society in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. The term refers to a... Direct democracy, classically termed pure democracy,[1] comprises a form of democracy and theory of civics wherein sovereignty is lodged in the assembly of all citizens who choose to participate. ...


The first soviets, also called workers councils, were formed after the Russian Revolution of 1905. Lenin and the Bolsheviks saw the soviet as the basic organizing unit of society in a communist system and supported this form of democracy. The soviets also played a considerable role in the February and October Revolution. At that time, they represented a variety of parties in addition to Bolsheviks. After Lenin's party, the Bolsheviks, only a got a minority of the votes in the election to the Russian Constituent Assembly, he disbanded it after its first meeting, arguing, like Marx, that parliamentary democracy could not fairly represent the workers since it was in practice dominated by the bourgeoisie, and that the Soviets more accurately represented the opinion of the people, which had changed as shown in the elections to the Soviets between the time of the elections to the Assembly and the first meeting of the Assembly. He also explicitly stated that democracy did not include those considered bourgeoisie.[1] Critics argued that the elections to the Soviets were not free and fair, unlike the elections to the Assembly. The Russian Revolution of 1905 was an empire-wide struggle of both anti-government and undirected violence. ... Lenin redirects here. ... Bolshevik Party Meeting. ... The February Revolution (N.S.: March Revolution) of 1917 in Russia was the first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917. ... Red October redirects here. ... Bolsheviks (Russian: IPA , derived from bolshinstvo, majority) were members of the Bolshevik faction of the Marxist Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) which split apart from the Menshevik faction[1] at the Second Party Congress in 1903 and ultimately became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. ... The Russian Constituent Assembly (Всероссийское Учредительное Собрание, Vserossiyskoye Uchreditelnoye Sobranie) was a democratically elected constitutional body convened in Russia after the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II. It met for 13 hours, 4 p. ... Bourgeoisie (RP [], GA []) refers to a group of people whose social and political opinions are determined primarily by concern for property values and personal appearance of wealth. ... Bourgeoisie (RP [], GA []) refers to a group of people whose social and political opinions are determined primarily by concern for property values and personal appearance of wealth. ...


After the revolution, the Bolsheviks had to defend the newly formed government in World War One and the Russian Civil War. The effects of the wars on the new soviet government may be part of what led to the decline of soviet democracy in Russia (due to the authority a state must take on in war time) and to the emergence of the bureaucratic structure that maintained much control throughout the history of the Soviet Union. Other parties than the Bolsheviks were gradually prohibited. Lenin argued that the Soviets and the principle of democratic centralism within the Bolshevik party still assured democracy. However, Lenin also issued a "temporary" ban on factions within the party. This ban remained until the fall of Communism and according to critics made the democratic procedures within the party an empty formality.[1] Ypres, 1917, in the vicinity of the Battle of Passchendaele. ... Combatants Red Army (Bolsheviks) White Army (Monarchists, SRs, Anti-Communists) Green Army (Peasants and Nationalists) Black Army (Anarchists) Commanders Leon Trotsky Mikhail Tukhachevsky Semyon Budyonny Lavr Kornilov, Alexander Kolchak, Anton Denikin, Pyotr Wrangel Alexander Antonov, Nikifor Grigoriev Nestor Makhno Strength 5,427,273 (peak) +1,000,000 Casualties 939,755... For most of the history of the Soviet Union, its political system was characterized by divergence between the formal system as expressed in the Constitution of the Soviet Union and actual practice. ... Democratic centralism is the name given to the principles of internal organization used by Leninist political parties, and the term is sometimes used as a synonym for any Leninist policy inside a political party. ...


When Stalin came to power he consolidated much more authority under the party. Soviets were transformed into the bureaucratic structure that existed throughout the history of the Soviet Union and were completely under control of the party officials and the politburo. The Politburo (in Russian: Политбюро), known as the Presidium from 1952 to 1966, functioned as the central policymaking and governing body of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. ...


Elections

Estonian poster for the 1951 Soviet elections
Estonian poster for the 1951 Soviet elections

In theory, citizens selected the candidates for election to local soviets. In practice, at least before the June 1987 elections, these candidates had been selected by local Communist party, Komsomol, and trade union officials under the guidance of the district (raion) party organization. Elections took place after six weeks of campaigning, and the candidates, until 1987 always unopposed candidates, had usually received more than 99 percent of the vote. Image File history File links 1951electionsestonian. ... Image File history File links 1951electionsestonian. ... Komsomol (Комсомол) is a syllabic abbreviation word, from the Russian Kommunisticheski Soyuz Molodiozhi (Коммунистический союз молодёжи), or Communist...


Despite the party's historic control over local elections--from the nomination of candidates to their unopposed elections--the citizens used the elections to make public their concerns. They sometimes used the furnished paper ballots to write requests for particular public services. For example, the 1985 elections to an Omsk soviet included instructions to move the airfield farther from the city center, construct a new music center, and build parking facilities for invalids. Subsequently, the Omsk soviet took steps to provide these services, all of which had the approval of the relevant party authorities. Thus, citizen demands that were reconciled with the interests of the party apparatus have been met through election mandates.[2]


The Communist Party

Vanguard Party

Main article: Vanguard party

As he surveyed the European milieu in the late 1890s, Lenin found several problems with the Marxism of his day. Contrary to what Marx had predicted, capitalism had strengthened itself over the last third of the nineteenth century. The working class in western Europe had not become impoverished; rather, its prosperity had risen. Hence, the workers and their unions, although continuing to press for better wages and working conditions, failed to develop the revolutionary class consciousness that Marx had expected. Lenin also argued that the division of labor in capitalist society prevented the emergence of proletarian class consciousness. Lenin wrote that because workers had to labor ten or twelve hours each workday in a factory, they had no time to learn the complexities of Marxist theory. A vanguard party is a political party or grassroot organization at the forefront of a mass action, movement, or revolution. ... Division of labour is the breakdown of labour into specific, circumscribed tasks for maximum efficiency of output in the context of manufacturing. ...


Based on his observations, Lenin shifted the engine of proletarian revolution from the working class to a tightly knit party of intellectuals. Lenin wrote in What is to be Done (1902) that the "history of all countries bears out the fact that through their own powers alone, the working class can develop only a trade-union consciousness." That is, history had demonstrated that the working class could engage in local, spontaneous rebellions to improve its position within the capitalist system but that it lacked the understanding of its interests necessary to overthrow that system. Pessimistic about the proletariat's ability to acquire class consciousness, Lenin argued that the bearers of this consciousness were déclassé intellectuals who made it their vocation to conspire against the capitalist system and prepare for the dictatorship of the proletariat. Lenin also held that because Marx's thought was set forth in a sophisticated body of philosophical, economic, and social analysis, a high level of intellectual training was required to comprehend it. Hence, for Lenin, those who would bring about the revolution must devote all their energies and resources to understanding the range of Marx's thought. They must be professional activists having no other duties that might interfere with their efforts to promote revolution. What Is to Be Done? (Russian: ) was a political pamphlet, written by Vladimir Lenin at the end of 1901 and early 1902. ... A Trade Union (Labour union) ... is a continuous association of wage-earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment. ...


The Communist Party of the Soviet Union continued to regard itself as the institutionalization of Marxist-Leninist consciousness in the Soviet Union, and therein lied the justification for the controls it exercised over Soviet society. Article 6 of the 1977 Soviet Constitution referd to the party as the "leading and guiding force of Soviet society and the nucleus of its political system, of all state organizations and public organizations." The party, precisely because it was the bearer of Marxist-Leninist ideology, determined the general development of society, directd domestic and foreign policy, and "imparts a planned, systematic, and theoretically substantiated character" to the struggle of the Soviet people for the victory of communism.[3] The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Russian: Коммунисти́ческая Па́ртия Сове́тского Сою́за = КПСС) was the name used by the successors of the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party from 1952 to 1991, but the wording Communist Party was present in the partys name since 1918 when the Bolsheviks became the Russian...


Nomenklatura

Main article: Nomenklatura

The nomenklatura referred to the Communist party's authority to make appointments to key positions throughout the governmental system, as well as throughout the party's own hierarchy. Coextensive with the nomenklatura were patron-client relations. Officials who had the authority to appoint individuals to certain positions cultivated loyalties among those whom they appointed. The patron (the official making the appointment) promoted the interests of clients in return for their support. Powerful patrons, such as the members of the Politburo, had many clients. Moreover, an official could be both a client (in relation to a higher-level patron) and a patron (to other, lower-level officials). The nomenklatura were a small, élite subset of the general population of Party members in the Soviet Union, having more authority and claiming higher privileges as precisely the same kind of ruling class which Communist doctrine denounced in the Capitalist West. ...


Because a client was beholden to his patron for his position, the client was eager to please his patron by carrying out his policies. The Soviet power structure essentially consisted of groups of vassals (clients) who had an overlord (the patron). The higher the patron, the more clients the patron had. Patrons protected their clients and tried to promote their careers. In return for the patron's efforts to promote their careers, the clients remained loyal to their patron. Thus, by promoting his clients' careers, the patron could advance his own power.


Milovan Djilas wrote of the nomenklatura in his book The New class, and that it was widely seen (and resented) by ordinary citizens as a bureaucratic élite that enjoyed special privileges and had simply supplanted the earlier wealthy capitalist élites. Milovan Đilas Milovan Đilas (1911-1995) was a Communist politician and theorist in Yugoslavia. ... The new class is a term to describe the privileged ruling class of bureaucrats and Communist party functionaries which typically arises in a Stalinist communist state. ...


Constitutions

The 1918 Constitution

The first constitution, the 1918 Soviet Constitution, described the regime that assumed power in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. This constitution formally recognized the Bolshevik party organization as the ruler of Russia according to the principle of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The constitution also stated that under the leadership of the Bolsheviks the workers formed a political alliance with the peasants. This constitution gave broad guarantees of equal rights to workers and peasants. It denied, however, the right of social groups that opposed the new government or supported the White armies in the Civil War (1918-21) to participate in elections to the soviets or to hold political power. The first Soviet Constitution, which governed the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, described the regime that assumed power in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. ...


Supreme power rested with the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, made up of deputies from local soviets across Russia. The steering committee of the Congress of Soviets--known as the Central Executive Committee of the Congress of Soviets--acted as the "supreme organ of power" between sessions of the congress and as the collective presidency of the state. The Congress of Soviets was the supreme governing body of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and the Soviet Union in two periods, from 1917 to 1936 and from 1989 to 1993. ... The Supreme Soviet (Верховный Совет, Verhovniy Sovet, literally the Supreme Council) comprised the highest legislative body in the Soviet Union in the interim of the sessions of the Congress of Soviets, and the only one with the power...


The congress recognized the Council of People's Commissars (Sovet narodnykh kommissarov--Sovnarkom) as the administrative arm of the young government. (The Sovnarkom had exercised governmental authority from November 1917 until the adoption of the 1918 constitution.) The constitution made the Sovnarkom responsible to the Congress of Soviets for the "general administration of the affairs of the state." The constitution enabled the Sovnarkom to issue decrees carrying the full force of law when the congress was not in session. The congress then routinely approved these decrees at its next session.[4] This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ...


The 1924 Constitution

The 1924 Soviet Constitution constitution legitimated the December 1922 union of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, the Ukrainian Republic, the Belorussian Republic, and the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic to form the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This constitution also altered the structure of the central government. It eliminated the Congress of Soviets and established the Central Executive Committee as the supreme body of state authority. In turn, the constitution divided the Central Executive Committee into the Soviet of the Union, which would represent the constituent republics, and the Soviet of Nationalities, which would represent the interests of nationality groups. The Presidium of the Central Executive Committee served as the collective presidency. Between sessions of the Central Executive Committee, the Presidium supervised the government administration. The Central Executive Committee also elected the Sovnarkom, which served as the executive arm of the government.[5] The 1924 Soviet Constitution legitimated the December 1922 union of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, the Ukrainian SSR, the Belarusian SSR, and the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic to form the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. ... Soviet redirects here. ... The Soviet of Nationalities (Совет Национальностей in Russian), was one of the two chambers of the Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, elected on the basis of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot in accordance with the principles of Soviet democracy. ... The Presidium or Praesidium (from Latin praesidium meaning protection or defense so plural presidia or praesidia) is the name for the executive committee of various legislative and organizational bodies. ...


The 1936 Constitution

The 1936 Soviet Constitution, adopted on December 5, 1936, and also known as the "Stalin" constitution, redesigned the government. The constitution repealed restrictions on voting and added universal direct suffrage and the right to work to rights guaranteed by the previous constitution. The constitution also provided for the direct election of all government bodies and their reorganization into a single, uniform system. The 1936 Soviet constitution, adopted on December 5, 1936, and also known as the Stalin constitution, redesigned the government of the Soviet Union. ...


The 1936 constitution changed the name of the Central Executive Committee to the Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Like its predecessor, the Supreme Soviet contained two chambers: the Soviet of the Union and the Soviet of Nationalities. The constitution empowered the Supreme Soviet to elect commissions, which performed most of the Supreme Soviet's work. As under the former constitution, the Presidium exercised the full powers of the Supreme Soviet between sessions and had the right to interpret laws. The chairman of the Presidium became the titular head of state. The Sovnarkom (after 1946 known as the Council of Ministers) continued to act as the executive arm of the government.[6] The Supreme Soviet (Russian: , Verhovniy Sovet, literally the Supreme Council) comprised the highest legislative body in the Soviet Union in the interim of the sessions of the Congress of Soviets, and the only one with the power to pass constitutional amendments. ...


1977 Soviet Constitution

The 1977 Soviet Constitution stated: At the Seventh (Special) Session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Ninth Convocation on October 7, 1977, the fourth and last Soviet Constitution, also known as the Brezhnev Constitution, was unanimously adopted. ...

  • Article 1: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is a socialist state of the whole people, expressing the will and interests of the workers, peasants, and intelligentsia, the working people of all the nations and nationalities of the country.
  • Article 2:
    1. All power in the USSR belongs to the people.
    2. The people exercise state power through Soviets of People's Deputies, which constitute the political foundation of the USSR.
    3. All other state bodies are under the control of, and accountable to, the Soviets of People's Deputies.

Unlike the Communist party hierarchy in which the local organizations elected representatives that formed higher structures, and so on up to the Central Committee (see democratic centralism), the Supreme Soviet was elected in the way very similar to the election of a legislature in a liberal democracy. According to Constitution of 1977: Democratic centralism is the name given to the principles of internal organization used by Leninist political parties, and the term is sometimes used as a synonym for any Leninist policy inside a political party. ... The Supreme Soviet (Russian: , Verhovniy Sovet, literally the Supreme Council) comprised the highest legislative body in the Soviet Union in the interim of the sessions of the Congress of Soviets, and the only one with the power to pass constitutional amendments. ... Liberal democracy is a form of government. ...

  • Article 95: Deputies to all Soviets shall be elected on the basis of universal, equal, and direct suffrage by secret ballot.
  • Article 96:
    1. Elections shall be universal: all citizens of the USSR who have reached the age of 18 shall have the right to vote and to be elected, with the exception of persons who have been certified insane.
    2. To be eligible for election to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR a citizen of the USSR must have reached the age of 21.
  • Article 97: Elections shall be equal: each citizen shall have one vote; all voters shall exercise the franchise on an equal footing.
  • Article 98: Elections shall be direct: deputies to all Soviets of People's Deputies shall be elected by direct vote.
  • Article 99: Voting at elections shall be secret: control over voters' exercise of the franchise is inadmissible.

Despite these provisions, the electors were not given much choice: the electoral ballot paper always contained only one name, and an unmarked ballot was interpreted as support for the candidate. To vote against the candidate required the paper to be marked and a secret voting booth used to ensure secrecy. In practice, the use of a voting booth by an elector was itself an expression of dissent, as a supporting vote did not need the use of the booths. Around one to five percent of the electorate used booth in the 1960s and 70s, with the number of opposing votes rarely exceeding 0.5%, mostly directed against locally unpopular individuals. Only at the lowest level did such votes have a chance of having any significant effect; in the Soviet Union circa 1970, about one in ten thousand candidates at village level was defeated.[7]


The restriction on candidacies was achieved through the following control mechanisms over the elections:

  • Article 100:
    1. The following shall have the right to nominate candidates: branches and organizations of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, trade unions, and the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League; cooperatives and other public organizations; work collectives, and meetings of servicemen in their military units.
    2. Citizens of the USSR and public organizations are guaranteed the right to free and all-round discussion of the political and personal qualities and competence of candidates, and the right to campaign for them at meetings, in the press, and on television and radio.
    3. The expenses involved in holding elections to Soviets of People's Deputies shall be met by the state.

During the early history of the Soviet Union, the Soviets were meant to be a method of democracy through which the dictatorship of the proletariat could be exercised in large populations. Later, they were called the dictatorship of all working people. Eventually, the word "dictatorship" was dropped from the Constitution of 1977. The dictatorship of the proletariat is a term employed by Karl Marx in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program that refers to a transition period between capitalist and communist society in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. The term refers to a...


Ideally, members of the soviets are close to those workers whom they represent and therefore can accurately translate the people's will into government decisions. Similar to the idea of representative democracy in which representatives are elected to make decisions at a national level, the Supreme Soviet members were supposed to represent the will of all working people. In reality, Soviets did not play any significant role in the Soviet Union, and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was in control of the vast majority of decisions. The members of the Soviets were also nominated by the party (see Article 100 of the Constitution above). The leading role of the Communist party was a constitutional provision: Representative democracy is a form of democracy founded on the exercise of popular sovereignty by the peoples representatives. ... The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Russian: Коммунисти́ческая Па́ртия Сове́тского Сою́за = КПСС) was the name used by the successors of the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party from 1952 to 1991, but the wording Communist Party was present in the partys name since 1918 when the Bolsheviks became the Russian...

  • Article 6:
    1. The leading and guiding force of the Soviet society and the nucleus of its political system, of all state organizations and public organizations, is the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The CPSU exists for the people and serves the people.
    2. The Communist Party, armed with Marxism-Leninism, determines the general perspectives of the development of society and the course of the home and foreign policy of the USSR, directs the great constructive work of the Soviet people, and imparts a planned, systematic and theoretically substantiated character to their struggle for the victory of communism.
    3. All party organizations shall function within the framework of the Constitution of the USSR.

While Soviets were supposed to be a legislature power, Executive Soviets formed by the Soviets were supposed to be an executive power. Executive Soviets were also controlled by the party organs. All versions of the Soviet constitution claimed that the people execute their power through the Soviets, but this was only a theoretical statement. In fact, many people did not make a connection between the name of the state, Soviet Union (Советский Союз) and the Soviets. According to one Russian joke, the state was named Soviet because the people liked to give each other lots of advice (in addition to "council", the word "soviet" can mean "counsel" in Russian).


To be the leader of the party, but not formally of the state evidently irritated Leonid Brezhnev, and he made himself both the General Secretary of the party and the Chairman of Supreme Soviet. Nikolai Podgorny, the former Chairman had to retire — according to yet another Russian joke because of "nebrezhnost" (this can mean "inaccuracy", "sloppiness" or "non-Brezhnev"). Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev Russian: ; January 1, 1907 [O.S. December 19, 1906] – November 10, 1982) was the effective ruler of the Soviet Union from 1964 to 1982, at first in partnership with others. ... Nikolay Viktorovich Podgorny (Никола́й Ви́кторович Подго́рный) (February 18, 1903–January 12, 1983) was a politician and President of the USSR from 1965 to 1977. ...


See also

Criticisms of communist regimes have often centered around accusations of human rights violations that occurred in under Communist rule, particularly under the regimes of Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union and Mao Zedong in the Peoples Republic of China. ... A workers council is a council, or deliberative body, composed of working class or proletarian members. ...

References

  1. ^ See note regarding Library of Congress Country Studies. Chapter 7 - The Communist Party. Democratic Centralism
  2. ^ See note regarding Library of Congress Country Studies. Chapter 8 - Government Structure and Functions
  3. ^ See note regarding Library of Congress Country Studies. Chapter 7 - The Communist Party
  4. ^ See note regarding Library of Congress Country Studies. Chapter 8 - Government Structure and Functions
  5. ^ See note regarding Library of Congress Country Studies. Chapter 8 - Government Structure and Functions
  6. ^ See note regarding Library of Congress Country Studies. Chapter 8 - Government Structure and Functions
  7. ^ p.35, "Elections in Communist Party states", Alex Pravda. Contained in Communist politics: a reader ed. Stephen White and Daniel Nelson, 1986.

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