1937 Soviet Union legislative election

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Soviet Union legislative election, 1937

12 December 1937 1946 →

All of seats to the Soviet Supreme Soviet
  First party
  Stalin 1945.jpg
Leader Joseph Stalin
Party CPSU
Leader since 21 January 1924
Seats won 461 (Soviet of the Union)
409 (Soviet of Nationalities)

Elected General Secretary

Joseph Stalin

Elections to the Supreme Soviet were held in the Soviet Union on 12 December 1937.[1] It was the first election held under the 1936 Soviet Constitution, which had formed the Supreme Soviet to replace the old legislature, the Congress of Soviets of the Soviet Union.

The elections were originally announced as being multicandidate elections; however, by halfway through the year the announcement was reversed due to the suspiciousness of the leadership during the Great Purge. However, during that early period a number of individuals attempted to make good on the multicandidate promise, including members of the Russian Orthodox Church who attempted to field religious candidates as a result of Article 124 of the new constitution, which promised freedom of religion. Many of the early individuals attempting to run as alternate candidates were arrested after the decision for multiple candidates was reversed. Additionally, the NKVD conducted mass arrests just prior to the election.

However, even with the mass arrests and with the tone more subdued than with the previous elections, there were still minor waves of dissent and opposition to candidates, especially major political figures (including Mikhail Kalinin, Anastas Mikoyan, and even Joseph Stalin himself) as well as celebrities (such as Aleksei Tolstoy) and candidates opposed on the basis of ethnicity (such as ethnic Russians running in the Ukrainian SSR). There was still a sense of excitement, however, given that this was the first election held under the new constitution.


Distribution of seats
Party Soviet of the Union Soviet of Nationalities
Votes % Seats Votes % Seats
Communist Party of the Soviet Union 89,844,271 99.3 461 89,063,169 99.4 409
Independents 108 165
Against 632,074 0.7 562,402 0.6
Invalid/blank votes 636,808 1,487,582
Total 91,113,153 100 569 91,113,153 100 574
Registered voters/turnout 94,138,159 96.8 94,138,159 96.8
Source: Nohlen & Stöver


  1. Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1642 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  • "State and Society Under Stalin: Constitutions and Elections in the 1930s," article by J. Arch Getty in Slavic Review, Vol. 50, No. 1 (Spring, 1991).
  • The Distinctiveness of Soviet Law. Ferdinand Joseph Maria Feldbrugge, ed. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers: Dordrecht (1987): 110-112.
  • Fitzpatrick, Sheila. 1999. Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 179–182.