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Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

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The Politburo
Politburo
Politburo , literally "Political Bureau [of the Central Committee]," is the executive committee for a number of communist political parties.-Marxist-Leninist states:...

(in Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

: Политбюро, full: Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, abbreviated Политбюро ЦК КПСС, Politbyuro TsK KPSS), known as the Presidium from 1952 to 1966, functioned as the central policymaking and governing body of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

.

Duties and responsibilities



The body was made up of the top members of the Central Committee
Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , abbreviated in Russian as ЦК, "Tse-ka", earlier was also called as the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party ...

. In theory, it acted as the political bureau (hence Politburo) of the Central Committee, elected by them to direct the Party between the sessions of the committee and with a mandate that only covered the Party. The Politburo was responsible to, and its membership was subject to, the approval of the Central Committee.

In reality, the Politburo was a self-perpetuating body that served as the executive branch of the Soviet Union, and its decisions de facto had the force of law. It oversaw the operations of the Committee and made all major policy decisions, which it then passed down through the Central Committee, the Supreme Soviet
Supreme Soviet
The Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union was the Supreme Soviet in the Soviet Union and the only one with the power to pass constitutional amendments...

 and the Party Congress
Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the gathering of the delegates of the Communist Party and its predecessors. According the party statute, it was the supreme ruling body of the entire Communist Party....

. Its control extended from the Party and into government because Party personnel held all key government posts and party discipline therefore ensured that Politburo policy was implemented by all government organizations. One of the few known instances of the Central Committee overruling the Presidium (as the Politburo was known) was the defeat of the so-called Anti-Party Group
Anti-Party Group
The Anti-Party Group was a group within the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union that unsuccessfully attempted to depose Nikita Khrushchev as First Secretary of the Party in May 1957. The group, named by that epithet by Khrushchev, was led by former Premiers Georgy Malenkov and...

 in 1957.

Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

 set up a political bureau in 1917 specifically to direct the Revolution
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

, but this precursor did not outlast the event; the Central Committee continued with the political functions. However, due to practical reasons, usually less than half of the members attended the regular Central Committee meetings during this time, even though they decided all key questions.

The Eighth Party Congress
8th Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks)
The 8th Congress of the Russian Communist Party was held in Moscow 18 - 23 March, 1919.The Congress was attended by 301 voting delegates who represented 313,766 Party members...

 in 1919 formalized this reality and re-established what would later on become the true center of political power in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. It ordered the Central Committee to appoint a five-member Politburo to decide on questions too urgent to await full Central Committee deliberation. The original members of the Politburo were Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

, Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky , born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army....

, Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

, Lev Kamenev
Lev Kamenev
Lev Borisovich Kamenev , born Rozenfeld , was a Bolshevik revolutionary and a prominent Soviet politician. He was briefly head of state of the new republic in 1917, and from 1923-24 the acting Premier in the last year of Lenin's life....

 and Nikolai Krestinsky
Nikolai Krestinsky
Nikolay Nikolayevich Krestinsky was a Russian Bolshevik revolutionary and Soviet politician.-Origins:Krestinsky was born in the town of Mogilev, in what is now Mahilyow Voblast of Belarus. According to Russian archivist A. B. Roginsky, Krestinsky was of ethnic Russian origin...

.

Although, in theory, the Politburo was elected by the Central Committee, in practice, the leading members of the Politburo and, of course, Lenin, were highly influential in determining the body's composition. This, in the end, reflected the weight and competing influence of various individuals within the party, their allies within the Politburo and supporters outside of it.
Under Stalin the processes under which the leadership of the party was determined became an entirely hierarchical matter with the General Secretary (i.e. Stalin) determining the composition of the Central Committee and even that of the Politburo rather than the reverse. After Stalin's death the authority of the General Secretary waxed and waned to various degrees and the composition of the Politburo again became a matter of shifting alliances among leading members and interest groups within the party, at least until a General Secretary was able to consolidate his position.

The Politburo had both full and candidate (non-voting) members. The actual size of the Politburo varied, but it usually consisted of fourteen full and eight candidate members. Although it had no formal head, the General Secretary
General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the title given to the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. With some exceptions, the office was synonymous with leader of the Soviet Union...

 of the Party, who was almost always head of the Central Committee, functioned as its de facto chairman. In practice the most powerful Politburo members also had membership of the Secretariat of the CPSU Central Committee
Secretariat of the CPSU Central Committee
The Secretariat of the CPSU Central Committee was a key body within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and was responsible for the central administration of the party as opposed to drafting government policy which was usually handled by the Politburo...

, the General Secretary leading of this group. Those who had seats on only one of these two bodies had less influence. Only a few women ever became members of the Politburo.

In order to minimize personal clashes and avoid factionalism there was a convention of procedure which mandated that strong criticisms be circulated beforehand to avoid conflict during actual meetings.

In 1990, the 28th Party Congress agreed to transfer the powers of the Politburo to the Congress of People's Deputies
Congress of People's Deputies of the Soviet Union
The Congress of People's Deputies of the Soviet Union was the highest body of state authority of the Soviet Union from 1989 to 1991.-Background:...

 and the Supreme Soviet, and the role of Politburo in everyday government of the country decreased considerably.

Politburo ceased to exist in August 1991, when the Communist Party
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 was banned following the August Coup.

See also


Further reading

  • Oleg Khlevniuk [2006] Politburo. Yale University
    Yale University
    Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

    Press. ISBN 0-300-11066-9

External links

  • Leadership of the CPSU Full list of members and candidate members of the Politburo includes dates on the body and year of death (or execution).