New PDF release: Communist Politics: A Reader

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By Daniel N. Nelson, Stephen White

ISBN-10: 0333414071

ISBN-13: 9780333414071

ISBN-10: 1349183393

ISBN-13: 9781349183395

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At least thirty regimes in the mid-1980s defined themselves as MarxistLeninist (Szajkowski, 1985ff). The foregoing should make it plain that we regard these regimes as but a part of the universe of political organisations which make up the communist movement. Moreover even within this category of ruling parties the communist movement is marked by variety. What these regimes have in common (and what they have in common both with non-ruling parties which style themselves Marxist-Leninist and with non-ruling parties, such as the Spanish, which have dropped the 'Leninist' element of the title) is that their respective elites maintain that their countries' social, political and economic development is guided by Marxism.

To register a vote in favour of the candidate the elector has merely to place an unmarked ballot paper in the box; those who wish to vote against the candidate have to delete his or her name. As secrecy of the ballot is constitutionally guaranteed, voting booths are provided for this purpose. In the circumstances, however, their use can be interpreted as indicating dissidence. These conditions, in addition to the strong campaign pressures to vote 'demonstratively', result, at least in the Soviet Union, in an estimated 1-5 per cent of the electorate using the booths to cast a 'secret' ballot.

The defeat of 'class enemies' made safe the introduction of universal suffrage, direct elections at all levels, the secret ballot and all the other trappings associated with free elections in the West. In the Soviet Union, where the new electoral system formed part of the 1936 constitution, these changes were explained as reflecting the new socialist stage of development. Whereas in the period of outright proletarian dictatorship it had been necessary to use elections as an instrument of class power to forge unity, in a basically harmonious socialist society the role of elections was to give unimpeded expression to existing unity.

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Communist Politics: A Reader by Daniel N. Nelson, Stephen White

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