Constitution of the Soviet Union
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Soviet Union
There were three versions of the constitution of the Soviet Union, modeled after the 1918 Constitution established by the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (RSFSR), the immediate predecessor of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Chronology of Soviet constitutions
These three constitutions were:
These constitutions had most provisions in common. These provisions declared the leadership of the working class and, in the latter two, the leading role of the CPSU in government and society. All the constitutions upheld the forms of social property. Each of the constitutions called for a system of soviets, or councils, to exercise governmental authority.
Comparison with Western constitutions
On the surface, the constitutions resembled many constitutions adopted in the West. The differences between Soviet and Western constitutions, however, overshadow the similarities. Soviet constitutions declared certain political rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion. They also identified a series of economic and social rights, as well as a set of duties of all citizens. The legislature was to be elected at periodical elections.
The special leading role of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was mentioned in the constitutions. In fact, it was the leadership of the Party which made all the political decisions in the country.
During Perestroyka in the late 1980s the constitution helped provide a framework for the emergence of extended democracy.