The Stalinist political system was a mass of complex bureaucratic structures and organisations with ill-defined functions and overlapping responsibilities. The main barrier to an understanding of this system lies in the fact that the formal and legal roles assigned to institutions often did not indicate their real importance. This is nowhere clearer than in the cases of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and the All Union Congress of the Communist Party. In theory these two bodies were representative of the masses of the people and the party respectively. In practice they met very rarely — the Soviet for a few days each year and the Congress only once between 1945 and 1953 — and they were largely ceremonial occasions. Real decision-making power lay to an extent with the executive bodies of the Soviet — the Council of Ministers and the the Presidium — but above all with the party’s executive — the Politburo and Secretariat.
KeywordsCentral Committee Party Member Ministerial Official Party Organisation Party Secretary
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