861.00/1–1747: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Smith ) to the Secretary of State


121. Despite double talk in Soviet press about democracy of Soviet election system it is clear from articles on current election campaign1 that this system bears not faintest resemblance to genuine democracy. Soviet elections are political puppet show in which masses dance to strings pulled by party bosses. Their purpose in foreign affairs is to conceal reality of police state behind constitutional façade. Internally they constitute gigantic organized “spontaneous” demonstration in which populace is forced to register solidarity with regime.

Good illustration of above is Culture and Life January 11 editorial. Editorial contemptuously contrasts “bourgeois democracy, which only formally proclaims democratic liberties”, to “Soviet democracy based on genuine active participation of people”. This ideological hocus-pocus is followed by assertion that in forthcoming elections CP comes forth in “bloc” uniting “non-party people and Communists in one common collective of Soviet people”.

Editorial urges party agitators and party press to redouble election propaganda work. It notes that 240,000 agitators are operating in Moscow, ½-million in Ukraine, et cetera. In connection with campaign tens of millions of political pamphlets have been published.

Editorial emphasizes that agitators must discuss subjects connected with most important economic-political tasks facing country. Inter alia, it declares that they must “ceaselessly wage struggle for raising labor productivity, for labor discipline, educate workers in spirit of devotion to cause of party and Lenin-Stalin”. Entire press, radio, meetings must “urge all voters to vote unanimously for candidates of bloc of Communists and non-party people”.

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Editorial states that forthcoming election will demonstrate with new force vitality and indestructibility of Soviet multi-national state… [apparent omission] “great strength of bloc of Communists and nonparty people”. In conclusion it asserts that it is duty of agitators to urge all electors to vote “for candidates bloc Communists and nonparty people, for policy of party.…”

Foregoing makes it obvious Soviet elections are not contest as in a democracy but carefully staged spectacle. Ruling party, controlling government, press, police, utilizes services of its millions of members and of entire state machinery to get out hundred percent vote for its picked slate of candidates. In these elections public has no choice either of candidates or of issues. Soviet press, of course, says nothing about public discussion of policies. Dissent from party’s position would, of course, be matter for police, but no Soviet citizen would dream of challenging party’s choice of election “issues”.

This is government of the party, by the party and for the party.

  1. This election campaign was for members of the Supreme Councils of the Union Republics. For comments upon the elections to the Supreme Council of the Soviet Union in 1946, see telegram 326, February 2; telegram 370, February 6; and telegram 378, February 8, all from Moscow, Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. vi, pp. 688, 690, and 692.