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Soviet Union Table of Contents

Soviet Union

Amendments to the 1977 Constitution

In October 1988, draft amendments and additions to the 1977 Constitution were published in the Soviet media for public discussion. Following the public review process, the Supreme Soviet adopted the amendments and additions in December 1988. The amendments and additions substantially and fundamentally changed the electoral and political systems. Although Soviet officials touted the changes as a return to "Leninist" forms and functions, citing that the Congress of People's Deputies had antecedents in the Congress of Soviets (see Glossary), they were unprecedented in many respects (see Central Government , this ch.). The position of chairman of the Supreme Soviet was formally designated and given specific powers, particularly leadership over the legislative agenda, the ability to issue orders (rasporiazheniia), and formal power to conduct negotiations and sign treaties with foreign governments and international organizations. The Constitutional Oversight Committee, composed of people who were not in the Congress of People's Deputies, was established and given formal power to review the constitutionality of laws and normative acts of the central and republic governments and to suggest their suspension and repeal. The electoral process was constitutionally opened up to multiple candidacies, although not multiple-party candidacies. A legislative body--the Supreme Soviet--was to convene for regular spring and fall sessions, each lasting three to four months. Unlike the old Supreme Soviet, however, the new Supreme Soviet was indirectly elected by the population, being elected from among the members of the Congress of People's Deputies.

Data as of May 1989