Jay Rogers
Director:
Jay Rogers

Recent Posts

The Forerunner

Free Elections in Soviet Union

By Editorial Staff
Published April 1, 1989

A flicker of reform coursed through the Soviet Union in late March during its first popular election since the Bolshevik Revolution, sweeping in a new era in the history of democracy. Twenty percent of the Communist Party’s top leadership was defeated in the election, and Soviet officials had to face the embarrassing reality that the Party’s choice isn’t necessarily the people’s choice. This was especially demonstrated by the humiliating downfall of those officials running in unopposed races; they had been defeated by “cross-out” campaigns conducted by their constituency.

After the change of the old guard, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev told a group of editors that the Soviet people had chosen the candidates they felt were the strongest supporters of radical reform. Gorbachev told the gathering that the elections provided the first lessons of democracy, and that “the days when Soviet leaders were elected by no one and responsible to no one” were over, according to Vitaly Korotich, editor of the liberal weekly magazine Ogonyok.

“He made no direct mention of any single candidate or race,” Korotich told the Washington Post. “He said that we needed democracy, and that pluralism gives people the possibility to go their own way. The people supported candidates who wanted to do something and work for change.” Gorbachev told Korotich that “when we dreamed about building a democratic society, it meant that there would be winners and losers in elections – that is natural – but that when it was over we all have to work together.”

Gorbachev responded to the defeat of some of his key party officials by saying, “The party will have to draw the necessary conclusions.” He added that he may purge more conservative officials from the party’s senior ranks because they have “lost the people’s faith.” Yuri Solovyov, first secretary of the Leningrad regional party committee and a candidate for the ruling Politburo, was the most surprising defeat. He ran in an unopposed contest in his home district. However, he failed to win a majority of the votes cast because 60 percent of the voters crossed his name off their ballots.

Popular Discontent

Many regional first secretaries, who are powerful political barons in the party structure, were also defeated in grass-roots campaigns which mobilized long-simmering popular discontent into an unprecedented protest vote. The Soviet people defied the party machine and broke decades of enforced discipline. The party’s power wasn’t seriously at stake; however, several senior party leaders who won elections found their authority had diminished significantly because of heavy votes against them.

In one case, an army general, Boris Snetkov, commander of Soviet forces in East Germany, was defeated by a young upstart lieutenant colonel who campaigned for abolishing the draft and radical reform of the armed services. In the Baltic Republics, voters were confident that the seats would go to candidates who are demanding greater autonomy from Moscow, and in some cases, outright secession from the Soviet Union.

“We had no idea of the depth of the popular discontent,” a senior Soviet journalist told the Los Angeles Times. “There is real anger among the people, and it is focused on the party and precisely on the party’s leaders.” Poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko said the elections were comparable to Neil Armstrong’s moon landing nearly 20 years ago: “One little step for democracy,” said Yevtushenko, “one giant step for the Soviet people.”

Combined with the defeat of at least 37 key Communist party and government leaders was the comeback of deposed party chief Boris Yeltsin, who was campaigning against a candidate backed by the Moscow party machine, Yegor Ligachev. Ligachev had fallen out of Gorbachev’s favor after engineering the publication of a neo-Stalinist counter-reform manifesto, and giving a speech on foreign policy that reflected the ideas of disgraced former general secretary Leonid Brezhnev.

Yeltsin defeated Ligachev after campaigning on unorthodox ideas such as eradication of certain party privileges and greater political pluralism. When appointed as deputy minister in 1985, Yeltsin told Time, “About a day later, somebody turns up offering me privileged access and other products. I didn’t let him take more than two steps inside my office. I said to him, ‘You’re not to blame. I understand why you were sent to me, but I have principles. I am against such things. Don’t ever come here again.’”

Yeltsin was appointed by Mikhail Gorbachev to the Soviet Politburo in December 1985. His first task was to clean up the corrupt Moscow Party Committee where he fired hundreds of bureaucrats and criticized the city for its food shortages and incompetence. He was ousted in November, 1987, after a bitter public debate with Yegor Ligachev, his opponent. His political comeback and campaign is the first ever in modern Soviet history.

“My candidacy was proposed by several hundred organizations in 50 different constituencies around the Soviet Union,” said Yeltsin. However, Yeltsin focused his campaign on the Moscow voting bloc. Considered an unacceptable candidate in 1987 by this bloc, his comeback signalled the influence of Gorbachev’s ideas of glasnost on the Moscow populace. Yeltsin said he agreed with Gorbachev’s ideas, but on matters of “political tactics” differed “slightly from the official leadership.”

Voters reportedly selected candidates who called for more radical change over those content with the current pace. The candidates were not only hand-picked Communist Party functionaries, workers, and directors, but also writers, market-oriented economists, a dissident historian, Baltic nationalists, and representatives of several unofficial political movements. When asked how she voted, one woman told a Soviet television crew, “Against what we have now.”

The Beginnings of Democratic Representation?

Voters were electing representatives to Gorbachev’s newly-formed Congress of Peoples Deputies, which replaced a legislature wholly subservient to the Communist Party. The Congress of People’s Deputies will elect an upper chamber, named the Supreme Soviet, similar to its former rubber-stamp parliament; however, it is meant to function as a real legislature with a session for up to eight months a year. The Supreme Soviet will be responsible for initiating, debating, and passing national laws.

Although the new congress and the standing legislature is still subservient to the Communist Party on major policy decisions, voters elected independent-minded deputies who will make open discussion of ideas very likely. However, all of the winning independent candidates who were not recommended by the Communist Party apparatus - in most cases – are party members who avow unswerving loyalty to Gorbachev.

While voters showed clear dissatisfaction with party functionaries by not re-electing them, those who lost elections did not lose their jobs. They simply were not elected to the national congress of deputies, from which members of the Supreme Soviet will be elected. Additionally, 750 of the most favored officials, including Gorbachev, were appointed earlier in the new legislature. The elections were for the remaining 1,500 seats.

This election was the first nationwide competitive election since 1917 when Lenin’s Bolshevik party was ousted by the Socialist revolutionaries. Lenin ousted the rival party from the government the following July, and began the one-party state that exists to this day. The historic election of 1989 was considered a success by Gorbachev. Last summer he warned a special party conference that “the party’s authority will be put to a serious test” by the elections envisioned in his reforms, and declared that the party leaders had to be made “more effectively answerable to the working people” if the country’s strategy of political, economic, and social changes were to succeed.

Voters sent a mandate of hearty approval for Gorbachev’s policies as well as speedy implementation. Their selection of independent-minded candidates who campaigned on issues such as housing and consumer goods shortages, as well as party privileges and the high level of military spending, showed that voters were more concerned with internal domestic affairs rather than world hegemony.

With a newly formed Congress of People’s Deputies in place and a mandate to speedily implement Gorbachev’s proposed reforms, their first major task is to tackle the economic crisis that has beleaguered the nation despite feeble attempts to implement perestroika in the marketplace. Although Kremlin officials agree there is a need for change, Soviet sources told Newsweek that there has been serious infighting over the questions of how far and how fast.

Are Soviet Reforms Genuine?

Some of Gorbachev’s key reforms were watered down prior to the elections. His proposal to remove government control of prices was postponed, although both Soviet and Western economists agree that decontrol of pricing is the central element in perestroika. Centralized decision-making is still intact with factory managers who have to submit annual plans for approval. They must abide by the approved plans despite changes in conditions.

And although Gorbachev has acknowledged the failure of Stalin’s collectivization and wants to encourage more private farming, his reform is less than a half-way measure. The state continues to control most arable land and ideology prevents a full return to private farming.

Soviet economists say the country is running a budget deficit of 100 billion rubles a year ($150 billion at the official rate of exchange and nearly triple the amount that the Soviet government admitted to only a few months ago.) Western economists such as Judy Shelton of the the Hoover Institution estimate that the deficit may be as high as $250 billion.

Although some of Gorbachev’s Kremlin critics say they want to see the economy improve and have admitted that the old Stalinist, centrally-planned system doesn’t work, they believe Gorbachev’s reforms have “gone too far for their taste” because of non-economic changes such as glasnost (openness) and partial democratization of the political process.”

In his post-election observation, Gorbachev noted the main moving force in perestroika is the Soviet man, and that “today we can register the fact that Soviet man has spoken up – the voters intense activity has shown that. And even if everyone is not pleased by the outcome of the elections – well, there is nothing that can be done about it. The master of the country has spoken.”

As one editor observed, “(T)he military and the Communist Party apparatus have been the true masters of the country since the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. There is no point in speculating on the future of Soviet policy under a more democratic (by Soviet standards) regime until we can be sure the old masters of the Kremlin are willing to relinquish power to Gorbachev’s ‘new masters’ – the people.”

Soviet voters have demonstrated their commitment to democracy and their desire for change; now it is time for the machinery of the Communist party to be replaced. The response of the newly elected Congress of People’s Deputies and Supreme Soviet to the need for economic reform within the next few months will show whether the election was a genuine effort to democratize or a ploy to placate the disgruntled masses.


Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » Russia, Ukraine and former USSR

Your comments are welcome!

Textile Help

The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.

The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.

“…a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine

Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese

Running Time: 28 minutes

$17.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


God's Law and SocietyGod's Law and Society (DVD)

Download the Free Study Guide!

God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.

Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!

Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:

1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?

Perfect for group instruction as well as personal Bible study.

Ten parts, over four hours of instruction!

Running Time: 240 minutes

Watch over 60 on-line video interviews from God’s Law and Society.

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

Download the Free Study Guide!

Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Running Time: 257 minutes

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


Dr. Francis Schaeffer - How Should We Then Live? (DVD)

Special Two-Disc Set!

After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.

Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.

$49.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information

Share |

Search this site:
View CCNow Cart/Checkout
View CCNow Cart/Checkout

RSS
Subscribe to
The Forerunner

Have The Forerunner Weblog sent straight to your inbox!

Enter your email address:

YouTube
The Forerunner Channel on YouTube


Promote Your Page Too

Featured Product
If you like the articles on this website, you may also be interested in:

Featured Articles

Live Seminar!

Real Jesus
The Abortion Matrix DVD: Update

The Abortion Matrix:
Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death

is a 195-minute presentation that traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God has produced. You can order this series on DVD, read the complete script and view clips on-line...
continued ...


View My Stats