Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Politburo is short for Political Bureau. The term originates either from the Russian Politicheskoe Byuro, which contracts to Politbyuro, or from the German Politbüro. A Politburo is the executive organization for a number of political parties, most notably for Communist Parties.
In Marxist-Leninist states, the party is seen as the "vanguard of the people" and therefore usually has the power to control the state, and the non-state party officials in the politburo generally hold extreme power.
In the Soviet Union for example, the General Secretary of the Communist Party did not necessarily hold a state office like president or prime minister to effectively control the system of government. Instead, party members answerable to or controlled by the party held these posts, often as honorific posts as a reward for their long years of service to the party. On other occasions, having governed as General Secretary, the party leader might assume a state office in addition. For example, Mikhail Gorbachev initially did not hold the presidency of the Soviet Union, that office being given as an honour to former Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko. Stalin ruled the Soviet Union for well over a decade before assuming the governmental position of Premier of the Soviet Union during World War II.
In theory the Party Congress elects a Central Committee which, in turn, elects a General Secretary. Under Stalin however, this model was essentially reversed and it was the General Secretary who determined the composition of the Politburo and Central Committee. At other times the manner in which the membership of Politburos was determined in both the Soviet Union and abroad was determined by various factors such as the strength of various formal or informal factions within the party, the waxing and waning authority of the General Secretary and the degree to which power was consolidated in that position, the strength or weakness of other leaders in the party, alliances among leading figures and the strength of their support among party members or various poles of power within the party or, in the case of ruling parties, the country.
Another factor for members of the Comintern aside from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the degree to which leading members of the party were in or out of favour with Moscow and the wishes of the Soviet leadership to promote or remove certain leaders, particularly in the 1930s and 1940s and again after Stalin's death, as the general line promoted by Moscow changed, sometimes quite abruptly - a phenomenon which tested the ability of local Communist leaders to conform with the new orthodoxy or, converserly, the ability of dissenting communist parties to maintain their independence.
- Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, in the Soviet Union
- Politburo of the Communist Party of China
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