The Political Temper of the Masses, 1945-1948
The first significant political event in the life of the country after the war was the election of the Supreme Soviet in February 1946. The electoral campaign was widely covered in the Soviet press, and the newspapers exhibited the "moral and political unity" of Soviet society, the "indissoluble bond of communists and non-party people." The discussion of candidates took place in all electoral districts, a formal and rather ritualistic discussion inasmuch as the election, like the prewar ones, left the people no alternative to the party's candidate-- there was only one candidate per electoral district. In official meetings, people did what was expected of them: they spoke approvingly of the party's policies and supported the party's candidates. Such meetings proceeded by a previously programmed agenda, and the opinions and judgments expressed can scarcely be considered an adequate reflection of the real political outlook of the people. This does not mean that the persons speaking at the electoral meetings were utterly insincere. The atmosphere of the election, something like a national holiday, demonstrated that the people's faith in the authorities was real, not imaginary. Spontaneous greetings to the Communist Party, to Stalin, and to other Soviet leaders were scrawled on the back side of the election ballots. If we admit that some of these inscriptions were prompted, still the style and the spelling of others testify to their genuineness. Whether the positive nature of these expressions reflects a characteristic spectrum of opinion is another question. There were critical comments, too, and they were followed up by observers from party organizations and informers of the organs of state security.