1936 Soviet Constitution

The 1936 Soviet constitution, adopted on December 5, 1936, and also known as the Stalin constitution, redesigned the government of the Soviet Union. It purported to be highly democratic, with multiple guarantees of rights, and democratic procedures. Supporters around the world hailed it as the most democratic Constitution imaginable. In practice it solidified the total control of the Communist Party and its leader Joseph Stalin. Historian J. Arch Getty concludes:

Beginning in 1936, December 5th was celebrated as Soviet Constitution day in the USSR until the 1977 Soviet Constitution moved the day to October 7. Before 1936, there was no Soviet Constitution day.

The constitution repealed restrictions on voting and added universal direct suffrage and the right to work to rights guaranteed by the previous constitution. In addition, the Constitution recognized collective social and economic rights including the rights to work, rest and leisure, health protection, care in old age and sickness, housing, education, and cultural benefits. The constitution also provided for the direct election of all government bodies and their reorganization into a single, uniform system. It was written by a special commission of 31 members which Joseph Stalin chaired. Those who participated included (among others) Andrey Vyshinsky, Andrei Zhdanov, Maxim Litvinov, Kliment Voroshilov, Vyacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich, Nikolai Bukharin and Karl Radek, though the latter two had less active input.

The 1936 constitution replaced the Congress of Soviets of the Soviet Union and its Central Executive Committee by the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. Like its predecessor, the Supreme Soviet contained two chambers: the Soviet of the Union and the Soviet of Nationalities. The constitution empowered the Supreme Soviet to elect commissions, which performed most of the Supreme Soviet's work. As under the former constitution, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet exercised the full powers of the Supreme Soviet between sessions and had the right to interpret laws. The Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet became the titular head of state. The Sovnarkom (after 1946 known as the Council of Ministers) continued to act as the executive arm of the government.

Of the three Soviet constitutions, the 1936 constitution survived longest. It was amended in 1944 but replaced in 1977.

The names of all Soviet republics were changed, transposing the second ("socialist") and third ("soviet" or e.g. "radianska" in Ukrainian) words.

This page was last edited on 15 May 2018, at 10:13.
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1936_Soviet_Constitution under CC BY-SA license.

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