ABSTRACT

Frustrated by the slow pace of implementation of his reforms and unable either to effectively combat the opposition within the party, especially in the Central Committee and the party apparatus, or to transform his economic and political reforms from mere words into tangible results, Gorbachev, at the beginning of 1987, decided to revive a long-forgotten party forum—the All-Union Party Conference. Traceable (like so many of Gorbachev's ideas) to Lenin, the party conference used to be an extraordinary party forum convened in the intervals between regular party congresses in order to deal with pressing economic and political issues that could not be put off until the next regular congress. Perhaps because the conference was conceived as an instrument that the top leadership could apply to any unexpected or unusual situation, the CPSU Statute provides no precise definition of the functions of the conference; nor does it lay down any rules of procedure or list its powers. In fact, all these matters are left to the discretion of the CPSU Central Committee. The only sentence in the CPSU Statute that mentions the All-Union Party Conference reads as follows: "Between party congresses the Central Committee of the CPSU may, if necessary, convene a country-wide party conference to discuss pressing matters of party policy. The 167procedure for holding the party conference is determined by the CPSU Central Committee." 1