Electoral Practices in the U.S.S.R

Electoral Practices in the U.S.S.R

Electoral Practices in the U.S.S.R

Electoral Practices in the U.S.S.R

Excerpt

After the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia in 1917 a vast amount of effort was expended to create an illusion of novelty about the soviet state structure. Despite the the- oretical tenet of Marx and Lenin that the proletariat cannot simply lay hold of the existing state machinery and use it for the purposes of proletarian dictatorship, practical necessities insured the use of many forms characteristic of the defunct "bourgeois" state. The Bolshevik leaders had no experience in government and were to some extent dependent upon administrative personnel which did know something of the mechanics of government. Dependent also upon the terminology for political institutions developed by a preproletarian society, the Bolsheviks were even more dependent upon the forms which past administrative technicians had evolved.

Models for soviet institutions can be found, to a marked degree, in the institutional structure of imperial Russia. The Bolsheviks, of course, did not invent the Russian word soviet" (council), nor were they solely responsible for developing the peculiar type of council of workers deputies (soviet) which became the new class institution upon which the state structure of the Bolshevik regime came to be based. Representative councils of a class character were a feature of the imperial society, especially among the peasantry but found in all classes. The most striking parallel, however, in many respects, is provided by the electoral machinery of tsarist Russia.

After the imperial bureaucracy had been forced, by threat of revolution, to introduce elected assemblies in Russia the problem was to regulate the electoral procedure in such a way that the classes favorable to the tsarist regime should predominate. The most important electoral machin-

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