Soviet republic (system of government)

For the Soviet republics of the Soviet Union, see Republics of the Soviet Union.

A soviet republic is a system of government in which the whole state power belongs to the soviets (workers' councils), a subtype of a parliamentary republic. Although the term is usually associated with communist states, it was not initially intended to represent only one political force, but merely a form of democracy and representation termed soviet democracy.

In the classic soviet republic, all power belongs to the hierarchy of councils (soviets), with the Supreme Council on the top. This means the Supreme Council has the authority to alter the constitution, resolve trials, sentence people, change the government, confiscate property, reform language and appoint any official by simple majority. Decisions of the councils are not required to be ratified or undersigned by any other body or person. In practice the councils do not normally execute all these powers, but rather institute bodies to perform their work.

Each council is headed by a presidium, which serves as a collective head of the entity. The chairman of the Supreme Council performs the ceremonial duties of the head of state. State awards are usually awarded by a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Council or a lower level council. Each council has a number of committees, including the executive committee, which serves executive functions of the council and even as a local administration.


The first soviet republics were short-lived communist revolutionary governments that were established in what had been the Russian Empire after the October Revolution and under its influence. These puppet states included some such as the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Latvian Socialist Soviet Republic which won independence from Russia during the civil war period. Others such as the Ukrainian Soviet Republic and the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia later became union republics of the Soviet Union and are now independent states. Still others such as the Kuban Soviet Republic and the Bukharan People's Soviet Republic were absorbed in to other polities and no longer formally exist under those names.

In the turmoil following World War I, the Russian example inspired the formation of soviet republics in other areas of Europe including Hungary, Bavaria, Slovakia and Bremen.[1] Soviet republics, most notably the Chinese Soviet Republic (Jiangxi Soviet), later appeared in China during the early stages of the Chinese Civil War. Other than these cases, "soviet republic" typically refers to the administrative republics of the Soviet Union.


  1. Stephen A. Smith. "Towards a Global History of Communism." The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism. Stephen A. Smith, ed. Oxford University Press, 2014. p. 8. ISBN 9780191667510

See also

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