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The Repeal of Article 6

"Gorbachev Factor"

In March 1990 the body of deputies, gathered for the Third Congress of People’s Deputies, elected Gorbachev president of the USSR. Gorbachev garnered less than 60 percent of the deputies’ votes. The chief “architect of perestroika” did not have the courage to run for the presidency in popular elections.

The resultant lack of popular mandate compromised the legitimacy of Gorbachev’s new post and was one of the main reasons for his growing political weakness. Nevertheless, the structure of presidential power began to take shape, signaling the curtailment of the domination of the party’s central bodies. 

Yielding to the demands of the radical democratic opposition, the Congress also changed the wording of the notorious article 6 of the Soviet constitution and removed the definition of the CPSU as “the leading and guiding force of society and a core of the political system.” The repeal of the article formally ended the power monopoly of the Communist Party and cleared the way for a multiparty system.

The Communist Party would for some time remain the best-organized political force in the land, yet it was now a mere shadow of its former self, and its power and authority were eroded virtually from day to day. The executive and legislative organs of state gradually took over the policy-making and governing functions of the hitherto all-powerful Politburo.

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