Gorbachev's Political Reforms

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  • Gorbachev's Political Reforms
    • The Problems of Political Reform
      • Soviet politics established by Lenin and Stalin included; Centralised Party, Regional Parties, Disciplined party following Politburo.
        • Communist party had become government of Soviet Union, controlling economy, army, police, media
        • Crucially, any policy which weakened the authority or discipline of party risked weakening the Soviet Union as Party held the Union together
          • Over time tension between Soviet Union and people grew as citizens became aware of corruption, yet people were tolerant of party with rising living conditions
            • Idealists in the party hoped reform and democratisation could achieve goals set up by Lenin. However reform was dangerous
              • True democracy could lead to the fall of communism (as seen with Khrushchev), Andropov and Gorbachev were the first to question the system
              • Gorbachev believed it would be possible to reform and retain communist control. He wanted to; Open up debate in party, allow intellectuals freedom of expression, allow the public to have more information.
                • However these reforms led to greater pressure to reform.
    • Glasnost, 1986 - 1988
      • Gorbachev repeatedly spoke about need to be open and admit truth, Glasnost was initially primarily committed to exposing corruption and being honest about Soviet state
        • Hardline opposition disliked Glasnost and Gorbachev so he invited intellectuals to criticise them
      • In Twenty Seventh Party Congress Gorbachev set out new programme, first since 1961, committed genuine democracy and improvement of socialism. Although goals were vague, clear break with past.
      • In order to create alliance between reformers and intellectuals Gorbachev opened media, radicals put in charge, media became liberal. Allowed movies, books, freed dissidents
      • During 1987 - 1988 Glasnost was extended, Marx and Lenin publicly attacked with foundations of Soviet Communism, citizens permitted to listen to foreign radio, broadcasts and papers
        • Party commited to openess and admitted to scale of problems and failure of housing, education, agriculture. This shook public faith in party
          • Gorbachev hoped Glasnost would benefit him at the expense of opponents, this worked when criticising hardliners and failing aspects of communism
            • However he did not escape criticism; accused of reforming slowly too little, failings of Soviet system as a whole, Stalinist communism
              • Fundamentally Glasnost destabilised party rule because it permitted criticism of party that Gorbachev had not anticipated.
    • Gorbachev's Early Political Reforms, 1985 - 1986
      • Gorbachevs power was a shift from one generation to the next, 20 years younger than others
      • Gorbachev aimed to remove officials close to Brezhnev to end stagnation and improve his authority, he appointed young communist
        • Gorbachev focused on economic reform, but failed so he believed political reform was needed. Argued traditional communists stood in his way.
          • He believed Soviet economy too highly centralised, which meant no accurate information, therefore hard to plan economy
            • His solution was democratisation to weaken power of traditionalists and quicken economic reform, end strict centralisation. Openness help economic recovery by ending distortion of economic info
    • Democratisation 1988 - 1990
      • Gorbachev introduced multi candidate elections, citizens could now vote for first time since 1917
      • Communist party ran elections kept them in power. Now power shifted to Soviet citizens
      • Although reforms were limited and kept within party, citizens could vote for a spectrum of ideas
      • Supreme soviet reformed and partly independent from party, weakening it
      • 1989 election remained 80% communist. However some central committee lost in place of radicals who wanted reform and independence (Yeltsin). Official opposition was formed
        • This weakened moderate power, but nationalists used election and violence, Yeltsin emerged to rival power
      • Republic elections in 1990 showed nationalism, 90% anti communists in Leningrad
        • Elections limited power of whole party, responses were much more radical (anti communist, nationalist)
      • Gorbachev needed constitution to grant him authority, Yeltsin agreed but to ***** communist rule
        • Following Presidency, Gorbachev gained emergency power, became authoritarian, censoring, using troops, lost support
      • Gorbachev made president but could not control. (Independent of party and soviet)
        • Standing for election was too risky. He gained power through little legitamacy

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