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John G. Wright

International Notes

Soviet Election to Be “Uncontested” – List of Candidates Reveals
New Social Composition of Ruling Stratum

(4 December 1937)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. 1 No. 17, 4 December 1937, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

With the official registration of candidates “elected” to run for the Supreme Soviet, Stalin has stripped his plebiscite of all the ornaments and pretences that have hitherto adorned it. In the first place, the elections will be uncontested. That is to say in 99% of the electoral districts, if not in all of them, only one candidate will run. In his graciously worded dispatch to the N.Y. Times, Denny ventures to guess that in a few isolated instances, more than one candidate may perhaps appear on the ballot. That still remains to be seen Thus far, there has not been any official notice of a “contested” election in the Soviet press. From the data already available, the possibility of such elections being held is reduced to a dozen or so districts still to be heard from.

A breakdown of the candidates already registered, and in effect, already “elected”, reveals that among them there is not a single rank-and-file worker or peasant. The candidates have been hand-picked exclusively from among the ruling tops in the party and government and from among the new aristocracy of Stakhanovists and “well-to-do” kolkhozniki, and the Stalinist “intelligentsia”.

Breakdown of Candidates’ List



Party and government functionaries




41 + %


Army, Navy, Air Corps officers


11 + %




  5 + %


Stakhanovists etc.


15 + %


Kolkhoz aristocracy


16 + %




  6 + %




96 + %

The remaining 12 candidates are “miscellaneous”, i.e., they may be assigned to any one of the last four groups. It goes without saying that a few among those listed in groups 4, 5, and 6 may be party member. But these figures constitute incontestable proof that the “non-party Bolsheviks” compose in point of number a bloc as large as that of the “party Bolsheviks”, with the G.P.U. and the military-functionaries holding the “majority” in a bloc with either one of these two groups – an item which may prove of decisive significance in future developments. In our previous comments we had forecasted that the mechanics of the election would reveal Stalin’s plan to shift his base from his previous supporters in the old bureaucracy to a new “base”. In the above data, we observe the concrete realization of this plan. It is further to be borne in mind that Stalin has in addition “renovated” thoroughly his old “Bolshevik” base. Many of the “party” candidates appear in the lists with a significant notation that this or that candidate is “fulfilling the duties” of this or that party or Soviet functionary, i.e., the original incumbent had been purged, and a “substitute” appointed at the very last moment without even the formalities having been observed.

Fear Boycott of Elections

One should imagine that with a set-up such as Stalin has engineered, there is nothing for him to worry about. Yet the press continues to be filled with “alarm signals” that the “class enemy” will attempt to “disrupt” the elections, and “do dirt”. Says Pravda: “It is impermissible to forget that the good nature and dopiness of several party and Soviet organizations is being utilized by enemy elements who are attempting and will continue to attempt in every way imaginable to do us dirt in the election campaign”. (Nov. 15) This enigmatic language covers up the mortal fear of the ruling clique of a boycott of the elections. According to the provisions of the constitution each candidate must poll over one-half of the votes in his district to be elected.. Should the voters stay away from the polls, or should they pursue the less dangerous course of going to the polls, and “scratching the lone delegate, a very compromising situation would ensue. Pencils are no longer necessary in Stalin’s election. But every man with a pencil is a potential threat. The dread of this possibility crops out in the campaign to turn out 100% of the votes; and much more directly in the speeches of the dignitaries themselves. Thus Kossarev a member of the Central Electoral Committee, recently issued an appeal to the youth regarding their role in the elections. He stressed their duty to expose and agitate against the enemy elements, and he indicated three infallible signs whereby any dutiful youth could immediately discover elements “hostile to the Soviet system, and the Communist Party”. We list them, as given by Kossarev: (1) Those who attempt to “talk the populace out of active participation in the elections” (i.e. the advocates of boycott!) (2) those who “attempt to put forward their own hostile candidates”; (3) those who “spread anti-Soviet anecdotes” and generally “carry on hostile agitation.” Where? “Sometimes,” says Kossarev cautiously, “even at political meetings,” but as [a] rule, he continues “in stores, baths, barber shops, street cars, layers of movie houses, bazars and houses of prayer.”

Diplomats in Grip of Purge

With the latest purge of the Soviet consulate in China, the list of foreign offices thus far affected now includes: Germany, Poland (Davtyan), Lithuania (Podolsky); Finland (Asmus); Latvia (Brodovsky); Esthonia (Ustinov – he committed suicide) and Spain (Antonov-Ovseyenko). While the head of the English embassy, Maisky is still intact, his staff has been riddled. A. Shuster, one of the embassy’s secretaries is being held in Russia. The naval attaché, Antipo-Chikunsky; the military attachés A.K. Sirkov, and Ivan Cherny have been “recalled.” Sirkov and Cherny were appointed in Putna’s place. The arrest of Yureney, one of Litvinov’s most intimate friends raises of course the question of Litvinov’s impending demise. A persistent rumor is circulating in the European press that a Moscow trial of ambassadors is now in preparation.

It is said that Yurenev, Karsky, Krestinsky and Antonov-Ovseyenko have already “confessed.”

Last updated: 29 July 2015