THE RISE OF PRESIDENTIAL POWER UNDER GORBACHEV
Brenda Horrigan and Theodore Karasik
Mikhail Gorbachev began to tinker with the organization of the Soviet political system soon after becoming general secretary in March 1985. Despite a long and successful career in the Communist Party, Gorbachev challenged the party's monopoly of power by investing new authority in the state's executive and legislative institutions and by seeking to maintain that authority through constitutional law and popular support. Through these reforms he intended to invigorate the nation, particularly its stagnating economy. He ended up transforming the state. A presidency replaced the Council of Ministers as the supreme executive institution; then, in the wake of the August coup, a state council in effect replaced the presidency. Finally, much to Gorbachev's dismay, the Commonwealth of Independent States replaced the Soviet Union itself at the end of 1991.
Gorbachev began his political reforms in earnest at the end of 1988 by revamping and empowering the legislative branch of the political system in a set of amendments to the existing constitution. Following these institutional changes, Soviet citizens in March 1989 elected a new representative body, the Congress of People's Deputies, from whose ranks a sitting legislature, the USSR Supreme Soviet, was selected to manage legislative affairs between congress