Soviet Union referendum, 1991

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Soviet Union referendum, 1991
Do you consider necessary the preservation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics in which the rights and freedom of an individual of any nationality will be fully guaranteed?
State Emblem of the Soviet Union.svg
Results
Votes  %
Yes 113,512,812 77.85%
No 32,303,977 22.15%
Valid votes 145,816,789 98.14%
Invalid or blank votes 2,757,817 1.86%
Total votes 148,574,606 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 185,647,355 80.03%
Results by republic
Soviet Union referendum, 1991 results.svg
  Yes —   No
Referendum held: 17 March 1991
Voting bulletin

A referendum on the future of the Soviet Union was held on 17 March 1991. The question put to voters was

Do you consider necessary the preservation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics in which the rights and freedom of an individual of any nationality will be fully guaranteed?[1]

In Kazakhstan, the wording of the referendum was changed by substituting "equal sovereign states" for "equal sovereign republics".[2]

Although the vote was boycotted by the authorities in Armenia, Estonia, Georgia (though not the breakaway province of Abkhazia, where the result was over 98% in favour,[3] and in South Ossetia),[4] Latvia, Lithuania, and Moldova (though not Transnistria or Gagauzia),[5] turnout was 80% across the rest of the Soviet Union.[2] The referendum's question was approved by nearly 70% of voters in all nine other republics that took part.[6] It was the only referendum in the history of the Soviet Union, which was dissolved on 26 December 1991.[7][8]

Overview[edit]

On December 24, 1990, deputies of the 4th Congress of People's Deputies, having voted by name, decided to consider it necessary to preserve the USSR as a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics, which will be fully ensured human rights and freedoms of any nationality.[9] The referendum considered five questions:

  • Do you consider it necessary to preserve the USSR as a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics, which will be fully ensured human rights and freedoms of any nationality? (Yes/No)
  • Do you consider it necessary to preserve the USSR as a single state? (Yes/No)
  • Do you consider it necessary to preserve the socialist system in the USSR? (Yes/No)
  • Do you consider it necessary to preserve in the renovated Union of Soviet power? (Yes/No)
  • Do you feel the need to safeguard the Union in the renewed human rights and freedoms of any nationality? (Yes/No) (Any legal or legislative consequences, in case of acceptance of, or otherwise, was not specified)

On the same day, at the initiative and insistence of the President Mikhail Gorbachev,[10][11] the Congress adopted two decisions on holding a referendum on the private ownership of land [6] and on the preservation of the Union as a renewed federation of equal sovereign of Soviet Socialist Republics [7]. For the adoption of the first resolution voted in 1553 deputies, against - 84, abstained - 70. For the adoption of the second resolution voted in 1677 deputies, against - 32, abstained - 66.[10]

However, concerning the first decision the Chairman YH Kalmykov later explained at a session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Supreme Council Committee for Legislation, the president asked to refrain from holding a referendum on the issue of private property.[10]

Second course was given to the decree. It said that "due to numerous appeals of workers expressed concern about the fate of the USSR, and given that the preservation of a single union state is the most important issue of public life, affects the interests of each person, all the Soviet Union's population",[12] the Congress of People's Deputies USSR decided:

1. Conduct a referendum of the USSR to address the issue of maintaining the Union as a renewed federation of equal sovereign Soviet Socialist Republics, taking into account the results of voting for each country separately.
2. To instruct the USSR Supreme Council set a date for the referendum and ensure its measures.
— Resolution of the USSR from LICs December 24, 1990 № 1856-1[12]

On 27 December 1990, Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR decided to enact it adopted on the day the Law of the USSR "On the popular vote (Soviet Union referendum)".[12]

According to Art. 5 of the Law of the USSR "On the popular vote (Soviet Union referendum)" [13] Law of the USSR referendum destination belonged to the Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR, and on matters not related to the exclusive jurisdiction of the USSR Congress of People's Deputies, in the period between congresses – the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. "Based on the fact that no one, except the people can not take the historical responsibility for the fate of the USSR, pursuant to the decision of the fourth Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR in accordance with the law on the referendum of the USSR"[14] On January 16, 1991 the Supreme Council USSR decided that to:

1. Carry out the entire territory of the Soviet Union on Sunday, 17 March 1991, for the Soviet Union referendum on the preservation of the Soviet Union as a federation of equal republics.

2. Turn on the ballot for secret voting the following wording of the question put to referendum, and the answers of voting: "Do you consider it necessary to preserve the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics, which will fully guarantee the rights and freedoms of all nationalities." "Yes or no".

3. To determine the results of voting by the Union Soviet Socialist Republic as a whole, taking into account the results of voting for each country separately.
— Resolution of the USSR Supreme Soviet of 16 January 1991 № 1910-1

Results[edit]

Choice Votes %
For 113,512,812 77.8
Against 32,303,977 22.2
Invalid/blank votes 2,757,817
Total 148,574,606 100
Registered voters/turnout 185,647,355 80.0
Source: Nohlen & Stöver[15]

In participating republics[edit]

Republic For Against Invalid
votes
Total
votes
Registered
voters
Turnout
Votes % Votes %
Russian SFSR 56,860,783 73.00 21,030,753 27.00 1,809,633 79,701,169 105,643,364 75.44
Bashkorstan 1,908,875 85.9 269,007 12.1 43,276 2,221,158 2,719,637 81.7
Buryatia 447,438 83.5 78,167 14.6 10,197 535,802 668,231 80.2
Dagestan 670,488 82.6 131,522 16.2 9,999 812,009 1,008,626 80.5
Kabardino-Balkaria 290,380 77.9 77,339 20.8 4,888 372,607 489,436 76.1
Kalmykia 148,462 87.8 17,833 10.5 2,829 169,124 204,301 82.8
Karelia 317,854 76.0 92,703 22.0 7,544 418,101 551,644 75.8
Komi 412,842 76.0 119,678 22.0 10,883 543,403 797,049 75.44
Mari 333,319 79.6 77,239 18.5 8,041 418,599 525,685 79.6
Mordovia 459,021 80.3 101,886 17.8 10,724 571,631 677,706 84.3
North Ossetia 331,823 90.2 32,786 8.9 3,249 367,858 428,307 85.9
Tatarstan 1,708,193 87.5 211,516 10.8 32,059 1,951,768 2,532,383 77.1
Tuva 126,598 91.4 9,404 6.8 2,494 138,496 171,731 80.6
Udmurtia 622,714 76.0 180,289 22.0 16,137 819,140 1,103,083 74.3
Chechen–Ingush 318,059 75.9 94,737 22.6 6,216 419,012 712,139 58.8
Chuvashia 616,387 82.4 113,249 15.1 18,784 748,420 900,913 81.3
Yakutia 415,712 76.7 116,798 21.6 9,483 541,993 688,679 78.7
Azerbaijan 2,709,246 94.12 169,225 5.88 25,326 2,903,797 3,866,659 75.10
Nakhchivan 31,328 87.3 3,620 10.1 918 35,866 174,364 20.6
Byelorussia 5,069,313 83.72 986,079 16.28 71,591 6,126,983 7,354,796 83.31
Kazakhstan 8,295,519 95.00 436,560 5.00 84,464 8,816,543 9,999,433 88.17
Kirghizia 2,057,971 95.98 86,246 4.02 30,377 2,174,593 2,341,646 92.87
Tajikistan 2,315,755 96.85 75,300 3.15 16,497 2,407,552 2,549,096 94.45
Turkmenia 1,766,584 98.26 31,203 1.74 6,531 1,804,310 1,846,310 97.66
Ukraine 22,110,899 71.48 8,820,089 28.52 583,256 31,514,244 37,732,178 83.52
Uzbekistan 9,196,848 94.73 511,373 5.27 108,112 9,816,333 10,287,938 95.42
Karakalpakstan 563,916 97.6 10,133 1.8 3,668 577,717 584,208 98.9
Source: Direct Democracy

A boycott campaign reduced the Against votes in Western Ukraine.[16]

In republics not participating in the Soviet referendums[edit]

An official referendum had been held in Estonia on 3 March 1991 on whether to re-establish the Estonian republic that had been occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940. The result was 77.8% in favour of re-establishing the Estonian republic.[17] Latvia also held an official referendum on 3 March 1991, when the overwhelming majority voted to re-establish the independent Latvian republic.

Consequently, in these republics pro-Soviet front-organisations organised voluntary referendums without official sanction.[18][19] Turnout of voting here was considerably less than 50% of the franchised voters of these countries, but this information was not included in the official statement of the Central Commission of the Referendum of USSR.[20]

Republic For Against Invalid
votes
Total
votes
Registered
voters
(not equal to
franchised voters)
Turnout
(based on
registered,
not franchised voters)
Votes % Votes %
Armenia 2,541 72.46 966 27.54 42 3,549 4,923 72.09
Georgia[a] 43,950 99.98 9 0.02 53 44,012 45,696 96.31
Abkhazia 164,231 98.5 1,566 0.9 747 166,544 318,317 52.3
Estonia 211,090 95.46 10,040 4.54 1,110 222,240 299,681 74.16
Latvia 415,147 95.84 18,015 4.16 3,621 436,783 670,828 65.11
Lithuania 496,050 99.13 4,355 0.87 970 436,783 582,262 86.11
Moldova 688,905 98.72 8,916 1.28 3,072 700,893 841,507 83.29
Source: Direct Democracy

Additional questions[edit]

In several of the republics, additional questions were added to the ballot. In Russia, an additional question was asked on whether an elective post of the president of the Russian SFSR should be created. In Kirghizia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan the additional question was on the sovereignty of their republics as part of a new union.[2]

Kirghizia[edit]

In Kirghizia, voters were also asked "Do you agree that the Republic of Kirghizistan should be in the renewed Union as a sovereign republic with equal rights?" It was approved by 62.2% of voters, although turnout was only 81.7%, compared to 92.9% in the Union-wide referendum.[21]

Choice Votes %
For 62.2
Against 37.8
Invalid/blank votes
Total 100
Source: Nohlen et al.

Ukraine[edit]

In the Ukraine, voters were also asked "Do you agree that Ukraine should be part of a Union of Soviet sovereign states on the basis on the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine?"[22] The proposal was approved by 81.7% of voters.[22]

Choice Votes %
For 25,224,687 81.7
Against 5,655,701 18.3
Invalid/blank votes 584,703
Total 31,465,091 100
Registered voters/turnout 37,689,767 83.5
Source: Nohlen & Stöver

At the same day a referendum in the Galician provinces Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, and Ternopil asked the three regions of the USSR about the creation of independent state of Ukraine.[23][24] 88% of the voters in this referendum supported Ukraine's independence.[25]

Uzbekistan[edit]

In Uzbekistan, voters were also asked "Do you agree that Uzbekistan should remain part of a renewed Union (federation) as a sovereign republic with equal rights?" It was approved by 94.9% of voters, with a turnout of 95.5%.[1]

Choice Votes %
For 94.9
Against 5.1
Invalid/blank votes 1.1
Total 9,824,304 100
Source: Nohlen et al.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Referendum was held only in Abkhazia and South Ossetia

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dieter Nohlen, Florian Grotz & Christof Hartmann (2001) Elections in Asia: A data handbook, Volume I, p492 ISBN 0-19-924958-X
  2. ^ a b c Referendum of March 1991 Russian History Encyclopedia on Answers.com
  3. ^ Duffy-Toft, M (2003) The geography of ethnic violence: identity, interests, and the indivisibility of territory p98
  4. ^ (Russian) Chronicle of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict (1988-2008)
  5. ^ Historical Overview of the PMR (Transnistria, Transdniestr, Transdnestr, Pridnestrovie)
  6. ^ Understanding the Cold War: A Historian's Personal Reflections by Adam Bruno Ulam, Leopolis Press, 2000, ISBN 0-9679960-0-7 (page 353)
  7. ^ Russia and the World Economy: Problems of Integration by Alan H. Smith, Routledge, 1993, ISBN 0-415-08925-5 (page 1)
  8. ^ Referendum on the preservation of the USSR, RIA Novosti (2011)
  9. ^ Постановление СНД СССР от 24 декабря 1990 года № 1853-1 «О сохранении Союза ССР как обновлённой федерации равноправных суверенных республик» // Ведомости СНД и ВС СССР. — 1990. — № 52. — ст. 1158.
  10. ^ a b c Любарев А. Е. Выборы в Москве: опыт двенадцати лет. 1989—2000. — М.: Стольный град, 2001. — 412 с. — ISBN 5-89910-019-2.
  11. ^ Съездом было принято два постановления о проведении референдумов по вопросу о частной собственности на землю
  12. ^ a b c Постановление СНД СССР от 24 декабря 1990 года № 1856-1 «О проведении референдума СССР по вопросу о Союзе Советских Социалистических Республик» // Ведомости СНД и ВС СССР. — 1990. — № 52. — ст. 1161.
  13. ^ Закон СССР от 27 декабря 1990 года № 1869-1 «О всенародном голосовании (референдуме СССР)» // Ведомости СНД и ВС СССР. — 1991. — № 1. — ст. 10.
  14. ^ Постановление ВС СССР от 16 января 1991 года № 1910-1 «Об организации и мерах по обеспечению проведения референдума СССР по вопросу о сохранении Союза Советских Социалистических Республик» // Ведомости СНД и ВС СССР. 1991. — № 4. — ст. 87.
  15. ^ Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1647 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  16. ^ Ukrainian Nationalism in the 1990s: A Minority Faith by Andrew Wilson, Cambridge University Press, 1996, ISBN 0-521-57457-9 (page 127)
  17. ^ "Chronology". 6 September 2012. 
  18. ^ Об итогах референдума СССР, состоявшегося 17 марта 1991 года (Из сообщения Центральной комиссии референдума СССР) // Известия. — 1991. — 27 марта.
  19. ^ (Russian) Воля, которую мы потеряли... "Время" № 5. 16 марта 2001 года
  20. ^ (Russian)Сообщение Центральной комиссии референдума СССР об итогах референдума СССР, состоявшегося 17 марта 1991 года // Правда. — 1991. — 27 марта.
  21. ^ Nohlen et al., p443
  22. ^ a b Nohlen & Stöver, p1985
  23. ^ Dissolution: Sovereignty and the Breakup of the Soviet Union by Edward W. Walker, Rowman & Littlefield, 2003, ISBN 0742524523 (134)
  24. ^ The Ukrainian West: Culture and the Fate of Empire in Soviet Lviv by William Jay Risch, Harvard University Press, 2011, ISBN 0674050010, (page 4)
  25. ^ Cleft Countries: Regional Political Divisions and Cultures in Post-Soviet Ukraine and Moldova (Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society 33) by Ivan Katchanovski, 2006, ISBN 389821558X (page 40)

External links[edit]