A few questions are still hotly debated among students of the Soviet political system, but certainly the nature of Soviet elections is not one of them. Everyone agrees that they are more interesting as a psychological curiosity than as a political reality. They are seen by various writers as ritualized affirmations of regime legitimacy, as methods of involving the masses in supportive activity, as a means of publicly honoring model citizens, and as a crushing display of unanimity designed to isolate the potential nonconformist. Both Western and Soviet writers see Soviet elections from the positive side, from the side of the dutiful 99 percent who invariably vote for the single candidate on the ballot.
In fact, Soviet and Western writers are in very close agreement on the major functions of elections in the Soviet Union, although their value judgments tend to differ along the lines one would expect. Taking one typical example from the general Western literature on the Soviet political system, we find the purposes of a Soviet election defined as “a public demonstration of the legitimacy of the regime … an invaluable educational and propaganda exercise … and perhaps most important of all, … proof that the system of control is unimpaired.” In the more detailed Western works on Soviet elections we find the same approach. Thus, Howard Swearer, in a very insightful and valuable article on Soviet local elections, states that “in the Soviet Union, the formal act of voting is comparable in purpose to such civic rituals as singing the national anthem or saluting a country's flag. It is a public display of personal reaffirmation of the Soviet way of life and the party leadership.”
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.
* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.
Usage data cannot currently be displayed