Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

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Under Stalin the processes under which the leadership of the party was determined became an entirely hierarchical matter with the General Secretary (i.e. Stalin) determining the composition of the Central Committee and even that of the Politburo rather than the reverse. After Stalin's death the authority of the General Secretary waxed and waned to various degrees and the composition of the Politburo again became a matter of shifting alliances among leading members and interest groups within the party, at least until a General Secretary was able to consolidate his position.

The Politburo had both full and candidate (non-voting) members. The actual size of the Politburo varied, but it usually consisted of fourteen full and eight candidate members. Although it had no formal head, the General Secretary of the Party, who was almost always head of the Central Committee, functioned as its de facto chairman. In practice the most powerful Politburo members also had membership of the Secretariat of the CPSU Central Committee, the General Secretary leading of this group. Those who had seats on only one of these two bodies had less influence. Only a few women ever became members of the Politburo.

In order to minimize personal clashes and avoid factionalism there was a convention of procedure which mandated that strong criticisms be circulated beforehand to avoid conflict during actual meetings.

In 1990, the 28th Party Congress agreed to transfer the powers of the Politburo to Parliament, and the Politburo ceased to exist in August 1991.

See also Organization of the Communist Party of the USSR

See also

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