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Soviet Union

The 1977 Constitution

On October 7, 1977, the Supreme Soviet unanimously adopted the fourth constitution, also known as the "Brezhnev" Constitution, named after CPSU general secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev (see Supreme Soviet , this ch.). The preamble stated that "the aims of the dictatorship of the proletariat having been fulfilled, the Soviet state has become the state of the whole people." That is, according to the new Constitution, the government no longer represented the workers alone but expressed "the will and interests of the workers, peasants, and intelligentsia, the working people of all nations and nationalities in the country." Compared with previous constitutions, the Brezhnev Constitution extended the bounds of constitutional regulation of society. The first chapter defined the leading role of the CPSU and established principles for the management of the state and the government. Later chapters established principles for economic management and cultural relations.

The 1977 Constitution was long and detailed. It included twenty-eight more articles than the 1936 constitution. The Constitution explicitly defined the division of responsibilities between the central and republic governments. For example, the Constitution placed the regulation of boundaries and administrative divisions within the jurisdiction of the republics. However, provisions established the rules under which the republics could make such changes. Thus, the Constitution concentrated on the operation of the government system as a whole.

Data as of May 1989