The Soviet Union was governed by three versions of its Constitution, modelled after the 1918 Consitution established by the Russian Federation, the immediate predecessor of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Chronology of Soviet constitutionsEdit

These three constitutions were:

These constitutions had most provisions in common. These provisions declared the leadership of the working class and, in the latter two, the leading role of the CPSU in government and society. All the constitutions upheld the forms of social property. Each of the constitutions called for a system of soviets, or councils, to exercise governmental authority.

The differences between Soviet and Western constitutionsEdit

On the surface, the constitutions resembled many constitutions adopted in the West. The differences between Soviet and Western constitutions, however, overshadow the similarities. Soviet constitutions declared certain political rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion. They also identified a series of economic and social rights, as well as a set of duties of all citizens. Nevertheless, Soviet constitutions did not contain provisions guaranteeing the inalienable rights of the citizenry, and they lacked laws to protect these rights. Thus, the population enjoyed political rights only to the extent that these rights did not conflict with the goal of building communism. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union alone reserved the authority to determine what lay in the interests of Communism. Finally, Soviet constitutions specified the form and content of state symbols, such as the arms, the flag, and the state anthem.


According to communist ideologists, the Soviet political system was a true democracy, where workers' councils called "soviets" represented the will of the working class. In particular, the Soviet Constitution of 1936 guaranteed direct universal suffrage with the secret ballot. However all candidates had been selected by Communist party, at least before the June 1987 elections. Historian Robert Conquest described this system as

"a set of phantom institutions and arrangements which put a human face on the hideous realities: a model constitution adopted in a worst period of terror and guaranteeing human rights, elections in which there was only one candidate, and in which 99 percent voted; a parliament at which no hand was ever raised in opposition or abstention."[1]


  1. Robert Conquest Reflections on a Ravaged Century (2000) ISBN 0-393-04818-7, page 97

See alsoEdit

Template:Constitutions of the Soviet Unionca:Constitució soviètica de:Verfassungen der UdSSR es:Constitución de la Unión Soviética fr:Constitution soviétique it:Costituzione dell'Unione Sovietica ka:საბჭოთა კავშირის კონსტიტუცია pl:Konstytucja ZSRR ro:Constituţie sovietică ru:Конституция СССР

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