The Former Soviet Union (1917-1989). Presentation Outline. Nations of the Soviet Union Legitimacy in the Soviet Union Political Institutions The Command Economy Gorbachev’s reforms (perestroika, glasnost, and novoye mneniya ) The collapse of the Soviet Union.
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The Former Soviet Union (1917-1989)
Russians were the largest nation within the Soviet Union, though they only made up just over half the population. Russian was also the official language of the Soviet Union.
Ruled from 1927-1953
Propaganda posters which fueled the cult of personality
Below: Stalin supporters marching in Moscow’s Red Square in 2010
The results of the 1979 Legislative elections show that the Communist Party won 549/767 seats, a large majority. It was possible to vote for “independent” candidates as long as they did not belong to another political party.
Were these really competitive elections?
Soviet citizens voting in a non-competitive election
(The Supreme Soviet)
Real power resided with the Communist Party and the Central Committee
The Party controlled all three branches of the government, all interest group activity, and supervised elections. All access to power was through the Party. The Party used nomenklatura to nominate and choose Party members for promotion.
The Supreme Soviet was a rubber stamp legislature with little real power. The decisions were made by the Central Committee.
Members of the politburo salute during a military parade. The politburo consisted of 15 top party officials who ran the Central Committee. The General Secretary of the Communist Party was the head of the politburo. All major policy decisions were made by this group.
Below: Soviet steel workers
Limited choice of consumer goods: Soviet car below (1975)
Above: bread lines were common during the Soviet Union as production was not connected to demand.
There were often bare shelves and little selection in Soviet supermarkets.
Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union in 1985. He was young reformer who wanted to democratize and improve the Soviet Union. Little did he know at the time that his reforms would unravel the Soviet empire.
Allowed limited free enterprise
Attempted to reform state enterprises towards greater efficiency
Created an elected legislature with real power
Increased communication with Western powers
Increased arms reduction
Allowed free speech and open debate in newspapers, discussions and gatherings
Allowed publication of facts about Stalinist regime
Ukrainians demonstrating in the streets demanding independence from the Soviet Union. This was confirmed by referendum in 1991.
Backed by the people, former Communist party member Boris Yeltsin declares a new democratic Russian republic in 1991.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991:
15 separate states!