The Law of the Soviet State

By Andrey Y. Vyshinsky; Hugh W. Babb | Go to book overview

X
The Elective System of the USSR

SEC. 1: INTRODUCTION

THE RIGHT to vote, like every sort of right, expresses the will of the dominant class. Parliament, national representation, national sovereignty, and national suffrage were in their time the chief political watchwords of the bourgeoisie put forward by it in the struggle against the feudal regime and absolutism. As early as the first bourgeois revolutions (the English and the French), the most revolutionary part of the bourgeoisie declared the right to vote "the natural right of all persons to freedom and equality." During the English Revolution ( 1640-1660) the council of the revolutionary army more than once posed the question of introducing universal suffrage into elections to the House of Commons. The French bourgeoisie, at the moment when it was arousing the people to a decisive attack upon feudalism in its Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen ( 1789), likewise proclaimed that "people are born free and equal in their rights" (Art. 1) and that "law is the expression of the general will. All citizens have the right to take part, individually or through representatives, in the making of laws" (Art. 6). Thus the bourgeoisie identified its class interests with the interests of the people in order to arouse the people for the struggle with the feudal nobility, to win political power. In reality the bourgeoisie was pursuing its class purposes, the assurance of its dominance.

In England, after the execution of Charles I ( 1649) and the creation of the English Commonwealth ( 1649-1660), the right to vote was transferred into the hands of proprietors, and after the restoration of royal power ( 1660) all political power passed into the hands of the great landowners and the great traders. In France the bourgeoisie rejected the principles of "natural law" after its victory. Individual bourgeois philosophers and thinkers "proved" that only proprietors, the bourgeoisie, have the right to represent "the entire people" in parliament. The first election law was very far

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