Power Struggle after Lenin's Death

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  • Created by: Benlhunt
  • Created on: 12-05-15 15:46

Power Struggle after Lenin's Death

Stalin won through a combination of personality, position, ideology and alliances

The Contenders


  • Lacked charisma/oratory skills of Trotsky.


  • Being udnerestimated allowed him to scheme.
  • Manipulative (Tricking Trotsky out of attending Lenin's funeral in 1924


  • Arrogant, hot headed and a maverick
  • Disagreed with both Menshevik and Bolshevik idealisms
  • Instead wanted more radical policy
  • This meant that he consistently argued with rest of the party 

Kamenev + Zinoviev

  • Didn't possess much character 
  • Had little ambition
  • Zinoviev was a fairly competent public speaker


  • Golden boy of the party'
  • Popular,
  • Honest
  • Incorruptible


  • These virtues worked against him as his passivity lost to Stalin's manipulative tactics


There was a divide within the Communist party itself between left and right.

Trotsky was on the radical left, with Bukharin on the right. Kamenev and Zinoviev were on the moderate side. Stalin was in the pragmatic 'centre'.

This meant that Stalin had the upper hand in adapting to the situation, as he never overextended himself too far into a certain ideology and constantly changed his opinion on matters. It meant that he could ally with anyone.

  • 'Socialism in One Country' appealed to the Russian nationalism.
  • Trotsky's idea of a 'permanent revolution' seemed unappealing after Russia's previous experience of international affairs through WW1 and the Russian Civil War.
  • Stalin was also committed to Lenin's legacy -> The NEP, which gained him supporters who loved Lenin.

Actions of the Contenders

  • Triumvirate formed to exclude Trotsky - Stalin - Kamenev - Zinoviev (1923)
  • Hidden agenda: Stalin needed Kam. + Zin. to help him and 
  • Kam + Zin needed him to prevent Trotsky from getting a majority in the Politburo.
  • This managed to remove Trotsky as a threat as it questioned his core beliefs.
  • Duumvirate was formed in 1924 to combat Zinoviev and Kamenev. Stalin + Bukharin.
  • Managed to remove Kam + Zin by 1925
  • Split in 1928 when Stalin rejected the NEP

Positions Within the Party 


  • General Secretary - approved candidates for party congress, which elected the Central Commitee, which elected the Politburo; this allowed him to:
  • Described as 'grey blur' but was actually very useful in stacking supporters within the party.
  • In 1923 Stalin appointed about 30% of party delegates


  • leader of the Red Army - feared and respected 


  • Editor of Pravda, but did not utilise this fact properly.
  • He didn't use propaganda to help beat Stalin 
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