Communist Party

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Hammer and sickle on a red background - symbol of communist parties

A communist party (CP) is a political party that strives for communism (the classless society ) as a social order.

The first communist party in the sense of a nationally organized party-political organization were the Bolsheviks under Lenin's leadership . The renaming of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party in Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) took place in 1918 for the demarcation of the the First World War approving policies of the SPD , which until then the leading Socialist Workers Party was in Europe. On the basis of Lenin's theories about the implementation of the order propagated by Karl Marx , further communist parties were founded worldwide after the Russian October Revolution of 1917 , mostly as splits from previously existing socialist and social democratic parties, after these had increasingly switched to a reform-oriented course and at the same time in the In the course of the First World War and the breakup of the Second International, the revolutionary Marxists interpreted them as distant from “proletarian internationalism .

The ideological basis of the communist parties builds on the historical , economic and philosophical knowledge of Marxism ( Scientific Socialism ), which form the theoretical foundation of communist teaching. This doctrine was developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the course of the 19th century. The main ideas were already contained in the Communist Party's manifesto of 1848.

Already in the 19th century and increasingly in the 20th century, however, there had been different interpretations and further developments of Marx's teachings, which up to the present have led to several concepts of socialism and communism (compare Leninism , Marxism-Leninism , Trotskyism , Titoism , Maoism , Eurocommunism etc.). Lenin's theory of the central importance of the communist party as the “ vanguard of the working class ” exerted a great influence on all subsequent real socialist systems.

The different interpretations ultimately led to splits and the founding of many communist parties that existed side by side and at least continue to exist in several pluralistic democratic states. Sometimes they feud with one another or accuse one another of “betraying” the original communist idea.

Notes on the classification of the article

The following article deals with an overview of the history of communist parties and thus inevitably also with the history of various competing communist theories and approaches from the mid-19th century to the present. The world-historical situation is partially included, insofar as it affects the history of communism (or of “actually existing socialism” ).

One focus is on the history of the CPs in Europe, especially in Russia (or the USSR) and Germany. The CPs of other countries, especially in other continents, are most likely to be mentioned under the sub-article Cold War , for example under China and developing and emerging countries .

Early communist, pre-Marxist developments are not mentioned. Please refer to other articles ( e.g. Utopian Socialism ).

The article is essentially divided into three major time periods and corresponding main chapters:

  1. Until the end of the Second World War
  2. Cold War
  3. After the Cold War to the present

Occasionally, there are also flowing transitions of a period or sub-articles that do not make a periodic separation seem sensible (most clearly, for example, in the history of the Communist Party of China , but also in some other developments of individual CPs).

Despite the scope, due to the complexity of the topic, not every CP can be listed in detail. In this regard, reference is made to articles on the history of the respective countries and the individual CPs.

Origin and development of the communist parties, history from 1848 to 1947/48

Beginning in the 19th century up to the revisionism debate

Karl Marx (1818-1883)

In February 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published the “ Communist Manifesto ” in London on behalf of the League of Communists , which was one of the first foundations of the communist movement and summarized the essential goals of the later socialist and communist parties.

Friedrich Engels (1820–1895)

With the final sentence “ Workers of all countries, unite! “The Communist Manifesto emphasized the internationalist character of communism and called on the working class to fight against the bourgeoisie ruling capitalism .

Marx and Engels had already shaped the still small League of the Just (founded in Paris in 1836 under the decisive influence of the early communist Wilhelm Weitling ). This union emerged from the League of Outlaws , which was also founded in Paris in 1834 , and was renamed the League of Communists in London in 1848 , which is considered the forerunner of the later communist parties.

Development in Western Europe in the 19th century

In the 19th century, almost all social democratic and socialist parties in Europe more or less conformed to the theses and theories formulated by Marx and Engels ( see also The Capital and the Manifesto of the Communist Party ).

The aim was a revolutionary socialist social order in which the previously existing capitalist production relations were to be converted into socialist ones. This means that private ownership of the means of production is to be abolished and the means of production are to be transferred to common ownership under the leadership of a revolutionary workers' party . This “ dictatorship of the proletariat ” ( socialism ) would develop into a classless society (communism).

By the end of the 19th century, however, there had already been various controversies within the social democratic parties and the labor movement. The first Internationale (IAA = International Workers' Association ) dissolved as a result of the fundamental conflict between Karl Marx (communists) and Michail Bakunin ( anarchists ) by 1876.

This conflict between the two most prominent representatives of the labor movement of their time had intensified after the defeat of the Paris Commune in 1871, which is considered to be the first socialist-proletarian revolution. Bakunin, who represented the anarchist wing of the labor movement, also strove to overcome state structures and denied the leadership role of any party .

At the national level of some socialist parties, controversies arose at the end of the 19th century over a revolutionary or reformist course for the party. In Germany, Eduard Bernstein opposed his " revisionism theory " to the at least theoretically still largely revolutionary-minded camp of the SPD under party chairman August Bebel . The goal of transforming society through reforms after the aspired democratic takeover of government asserted itself in the SPD and other social democratic parties in the medium term until after the First World War at the latest. This led to communist, that is to say: revolutionary-minded in the Marxist sense, splits from social democracy .

Development in Germany until 1912

The bourgeois-liberal March Revolution of 1848/49, during which Marx and Engels and the left-wing Neue Rheinische Zeitung founded by Marx in Cologne tried to influence the revolution with socialist and communist content, did not lead to one that Marx / Engels had hoped for socialist turn of the revolution ; however, in the course of liberalization , early trade union organizations such as the General German Workers' Brotherhood began to emerge, which marked the beginning of a supra-regional organization of the German proletariat .

From the mid-19th century, there was, as in many European countries, in the states of the German Confederation establishing of labor organizations such as workers 'education associations and workers' welfare associations , the forerunners of trade unions. Finally, social democratic and socialist parties were set up to support the interests of workers at the general social and parliamentary level.

Wilhelm Liebknecht (1826–1900)

In Leipzig in 1863 Ferdinand Lassalle founded a rather reform-oriented socialist party under the name of the General German Workers' Association (ADAV). In 1869, the Marxist-oriented Social Democratic Workers' Party (SDAP) was founded in Eisenach by Wilhelm Liebknecht and August Bebel as the German section of the First International .

ADAV and SDAP united in 1875 in Gotha under the name Socialist Workers Party of Germany (SAP), the predecessor of since 1890 under the name Social Democratic Party existing SPD and adopted the Gotha Program , which has been criticized by Marx because of its highly compromised adjustment against the reformist ADAV .

Despite repression, legal persecution and temporary bans against social democracy and its actions outside the Reichstag through the socialist laws under Chancellor Otto von Bismarck between 1878 and 1890, the supporters of the social democrats grew steadily until the SPD became one at the end of the 19th century Mass party had developed in the German Reich . Bismarck felt compelled to make some concessions to the workers with the relatively progressive social legislation for the period of the 1880s , through which he wanted to stop the influx of the SPD, which he did not succeed to the extent he had imagined.

August Bebel (1840–1913)

After its reorganization from 1890, the SPD was again more clearly aligned with Marxism with the Erfurt program, at least in its first part written by Karl Kautsky . The Erfurt program also influenced other socialist parties in Europe and made the SPD the strongest party in the Socialist International ( Second International ), newly founded in 1889 .

In the German Reich, after the Reichstag elections in 1912, the SPD became the strongest party in the German Reichstag with almost 28 percent of the vote and thus 110 out of 397 members, but without coming to power. That was still determined by the emperor without taking parliament into account.

( For further development see below )

Russia until the October Revolution of 1917

In Russia , the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Russia (RSDLP) emerged in 1898 from the amalgamation of three Marxist groups. However, the RSDRP was banned shortly after its creation; most of its members were arrested or exiled.

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, called Lenin (1870-1924)

In exile, the Bolsheviks (= majority), under Lenin's leadership, separated from the Mensheviks (= minority) first in 1903. After reunification, the final split between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks followed in 1912. Here, too, the reason for the split lay in the dispute between a revolutionary or reformist course of the party.

Although one of the most powerful countries in the world, tsarist Russia was still predominantly agricultural until the end of the 19th century . In many places, pre-capitalist feudal structures ( feudalism ) still prevailed . Increased industrialization began especially since the government of Tsar Nicholas II (from 1894). The rapidly growing proletariat suffered from miserable social conditions. Left opposition to tsarism in Russia in the 19th century was more strongly influenced by social revolutionary and anarchist currents than in most other European countries, whereas organized Marxist social democracy was still in its infancy at the beginning of the 20th century.

In January 1905 it was following the so-called " Bloody Sunday " of Saint Petersburg , where at least 130 demonstrators were killed and around 1000 injured in the crackdown of a mass demonstration by workers who wanted to petition the Tsar, leading to revolutionary uprisings nationwide , Strikes and demonstrations have come. However, these uprisings were not yet under the leadership of any particular party. They ebbed when the tsar gave in and introduced some liberal reforms ( see also: Russian Revolution 1905 ).

With the victims of the First World War, the discontent among the Russian population increased again, especially among soldiers and workers. Russia was on the verge of economic ruin. The February Revolution of 1917 led to the overthrow of the Tsar, who after his abdication to Yekaterinburg in the Urals was banned, and the government of the Social Democratic Mensheviks, but not to end the war against which the Central Powers Germany and Austria-Hungary was able to wrestle. With the help of the German Reich, Lenin was brought from his exile in Switzerland in a sealed railway car via Sweden to Petrograd in a secret operation . The imperial German government hoped for a victorious end to the war on the Eastern Front through a revolution by the Bolsheviks, whose central figure was Lenin , so that they could use the associations that were becoming free for the war in the West.

Under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky , the Bolsheviks took power with the "Storming of the Winter Palace " in the October Revolution of 1917, after they had overthrown the ruling Mensheviks under Kerensky , and founded the Russian Federative Socialist Soviet Republic (RSFSR) from which, along with others Soviet republics after the civil war in 1922 the Soviet Union emerged . As expected by Germany, the Bolsheviks ended the First World War in Russia in early 1918 with the peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk .

The October Revolution, initially promoted by the Central Powers as a tactical maneuver that was supposed to turn the First World War in their favor, however, formed the decisive beacon for left-wing revolutionary forces around the world, and ultimately laid the foundation for the end, at least the loss of power most European monarchies. The consequences of the Russian October Revolution also had a decisive influence on the coming history of the 20th century, in which the USSR, described as "real socialist", was to dominate the further development of CPs in other countries for many decades. For many historians , this revolution applies to the termination of the so-called " Civil age " as the actual content marker separating the 19th from the 20th century.

The Communist Party of Russia (KPR) emerged from the Bolsheviks, and after several changes of name to the Communist Party since 1918 and 1952, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) emerged. The theoretical basis of the CPSU was formed by the writings of Lenin, who expanded the theories of Karl Marx into Marxism-Leninism , taking into account the situation in Russia .

German Reich 1915 to 1933: First World War, November Revolution and Weimar Republic

Graphic representation of the development of German workers' parties between 1863 and 1933

In Germany, the approval for the split 1916/1917 after refusal war credits by Karl Liebknecht and Otto Rühle in the Reichstag the USPD ( Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany ) of the SPD from. The protagonists of the war opponents in the SPD, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, who with their behavior against the war and the SPD's truce policy had incited the displeasure of the government and parties, were sentenced to prison sentences in 1916 .

After the First World War, in addition to Hungary and Austria , there were revolutionary upheavals in Germany, some of which were similar to civil war , whereby communists tried to impose Soviet socialist republics in Russia based on the example of the October Revolution, which they also succeeded in some cities for a short time. So it came nearly two months after the assassination of the Bavarian USPD leader and prime minister Kurt Eisner by the right-wing Anton Graf von Arco-Valley in Bavaria in April 1919 for a month to the Bavarian Soviet Republic (see Munich Soviet Republic ), during which several Governments made up of communists such as Eugen Leviné , left-wing intellectuals such as Ernst Toller and anarchists such as Gustav Landauer and the poet Erich Mühsam took turns. The Soviet republic, however, was bloodily suppressed by the Reichswehr and Freikorps units (also known as " White Troops ") under the political responsibility of Gustav Noske by the SPD government until May 2, 1919 .

In the rest of Germany, too, the November Revolution of 1918 was violent, at the latest after the so-called Spartacus uprising in 1919 and the civil war that followed, under the leadership of the SPD leadership, which had initially joined the revolution for tactical reasons, but secretly made pacts with the counterrevolutionary militaries loyal to the Kaiser been smashed. Under the leadership of the SPD with the reform-oriented Friedrich Ebert at its head, the Weimar Republic prevailed as a pluralistic multi-party democracy .

Rosa Luxemburg
Karl Liebknecht

The prominent symbolic figures of the left wing of the USPD, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, who had been released from prison at the end of the war, had already initiated the establishment of the Spartacus League before the November Revolution of 1918 . However, both were imprisoned until October / November 1918 and then attempted to influence the course of the revolution with agitation and enlightenment with articles in the communist newspaper “ Die Rote Fahne ”.

During the First World War, the Spartakusbund continued to agitate against the war as a “ group international ” after Liebknecht and others had been expelled from the SPD. After the split in the SPD, it was part of the USPD as a revolutionary wing and after the war formed a left-wing revolutionary organization that was independent of any party , from which, at the end of 1918 to January 1919, together with other communist-oriented groups such as the International Communists of Germany that emerged from the Bremen left -wing radicals ( IKD) with Paul Frölich and Johann Knief at the head of which the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) emerged.

Shortly after its founding, Liebknecht and Luxemburg, symbolic figures of the revolution , were captured and murdered on January 15, 1919 by right-wing national free corpse soldiers in the service of the SPD government under Friedrich Ebert and Gustav Noske .

Both Liebknecht and Luxemburg were hardly active or even leading in the revolutionary struggles. For the ruling SPD, however, with their agitation and enlightening articles in the KPD party newspaper “Die Rote Fahne” about the role of the SPD as a traitor to the revolution, they represented a danger. Most of the revolutionary workers and soldiers saw the SPD as an im Basically a revolutionary party which, under the leadership of Ebert, Scheidemann and Noske, it actually no longer was at the beginning of the November Revolution. The relationship of the SPD leadership to the revolution was a tactical one. Her real goal was to save the old state structures under an SPD leadership and to intercept the revolution, finally to crush, for which she worked together with the right-wing national military who were loyal to the emperor during the war. Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht tried to make these connections public, and this was the political reason for their persecution and murder.

The USPD was visibly crushed between the SPD and KPD. After 1922, as a splinter party , it hardly played a significant political role in the Weimar Republic. Some of its members went back to the SPD, most of the left wing of the USPD had already joined the KPD by 1920, which for a short time - under the chairmanship of Paul Levi - also operated as the United Communist Party of Germany (VKPD).

At the beginning of the 1920s, the KPD was initially still based on the concepts and principles of Rosa Luxemburg (cf. Democratic Socialism ). After various wing battles in which the “party rights” around Heinrich Brandler and August Thalheimer sought a united front with the SPD, the “party left”, oriented towards the Soviet Union, prevailed at the 1924 party congress. She tried to continue the revolutionary practice against the young Weimar Republic even after the Spartacus uprising. After the unsuccessful attempt to call a general strike in March 1919, several unsuccessful regional uprisings followed in the early 1920s, for example in 1920 in the Ruhr area and in 1921 in Vogtland .

Ernst Thalmann, 1932

Under the chairmanship of Ernst Thälmann from 1925 until it was banned by the National Socialists in 1933 , the KPD essentially oriented itself towards the Bolsheviks, the now communist party in Russia and the Soviet Union under the rule of Josef Stalin .

The principles drafted by Rosa Luxemburg were tacitly dropped. At the end of the 1920s, the party was able to increase its membership and voter potential in the wake of the global economic crisis and the socio-political polarization in German society, but was never involved in a government in the Weimar Republic. With Clara Zetkin , a close confidante and fellow campaigner of Rosa Luxemburg until her death, the KPD appointed the age president of the Reichstag at the end of the Weimar Republic . From 1924 to 1932, the party more than doubled its following, and shortly before it was banned, it had around 360,000 members. In the Reichstag election in November 1932 , she received 16.9 percent of the vote and 100 seats in the Reichstag.

The struggle against the emerging National Socialism was initially of secondary importance in the KPD. The main political opponent was the SPD for a large part of the party, whereas many (not only in the KPD) took the view that fascism would fail after a possible takeover of power by the NSDAP and that the change to a communist system would then be simplified. This mood was based on the social fascism theory given by Stalin , which the party followed until it was banned in 1933 as a result of the Reichstag fire , for which attempts were made to hold the communists responsible. However, at the end of the Weimar Republic, in the course of the bitter, relatively short successive election campaigns, there were sometimes fierce street fights between supporters of the KPD (→  Red Front Fighter League ) and the SA , a paramilitary organization of the NSDAP, which also resulted in fatalities.

Immediately after Adolf Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor , the KPD called for a nationwide general strike against an impending fascist dictatorship . However, unlike the Kapp Putsch of 1920 , this call was only obeyed on January 31, 1933 in the small Swabian industrial town of Mössingen (see Mössingen General Strike ), where the strike actions were quickly suppressed and almost superseded by historiography .

( For further development of the KPD see below under Communist Parties under Fascism and in the Cold War under West Germany )

Russian Empire and the Civil War from 1918 to the 1920s: Rift between Stalin and Trotsky

In the Soviet Union, after the October Revolution of 1917, after Trotsky ended the First World War with the German Reich in the peace of Brest-Litovsk for Russia, a devastating five years civil war broke out between the Red Army built by Trotsky and very different opposition groups, in particular the troops of the so-called “whites” (“ white armies ”), the still relatively strong supporters of the former tsar, who was murdered with his family by the Bolsheviks in exile near Yekaterinburg in the Urals in 1918 .

During the civil war, social-revolutionary and anarchist movements that had initially supported the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution were also crushed. A relatively well-known example of this is the suppression of the Kronstadt Soviet uprising. Less known, but larger in dimension, was the submission of the anarchist movement of Machnotschina , a partisan movement led by the peasant leader Nestor Machno in the Ukraine, which was strongly influenced by the ideas of the anarchist theorist Peter Kropotkins . The Machnovtsi, who had controlled most of the Ukraine for about three years , had to defend themselves against both the Tsarist “White Armies” and later against the Red Army of Trotsky, which was initially allied with them , until they were finally subject to the Bolsheviks in 1922.

The civil war, which resulted in a great famine with several million deaths, weakened the young Soviet Union with enormous social problems. In the end, however, the Bolsheviks were successful and enforced the supremacy of the Communist Party in Russia and the affiliated Soviet republics.

Communist parties have been formed around the world since the Third International in 1919, the Communist International (Comintern), which was founded on Lenin's initiative to distinguish it from the second, the Socialist International with 30 member parties , and which was decisively shaped by the Russian CP, which was governed by the Comintern asserted their claim to global leadership over the communist movement.

The experience of the October Revolution in Russia led the CPSU to the view that before a world revolution, socialism could also be implemented in one country in order to replace the capitalist state and social order with a communist one. Parties that withdrew from this position or the CPSU's claim to leadership turned back to more social democratic positions in some cases. By 1924 at the latest, almost all communist parties were basically just national sections of the Comintern, aligned with the guidelines of the CPSU.

After Lenin's death in 1924, the power struggle for Lenin's successor led to a break between Stalin and Trotsky (→  Left Opposition in the Soviet Union ). Against the original will of Lenin, Stalin was able to assert himself through intrigues within the party . Stalin had held the newly created post of general secretary of the party since 1922 , which he later endowed with almost unrestricted powers.

In addition to Trotsky, possible competitors from among Stalin's supporters such as Zinoviev , Bukharin and Kamenev were eliminated and finally executed in the 1930s as part of the so-called " Great Purge ". Trotsky was banished and then expelled from the country. His emigration took him to Mexico .

Stalin adapted democratic centralism in practice to his personal ideas and consolidated the leadership role of the CPSU. He acknowledged a national road to communism priority one.

Trotskyism and the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s

Trotsky continued to propagate a strict course for world revolution, which he founded in the theory of permanent revolution . During his emigration he continued to develop his theoretical work. As a result, Trotskyist communist parties emerged that finally formed the Fourth International in 1938 . 1940 Trotsky was in his Mexican exile by an agent of Stalin, Ramon Mercader , murdered .

A significant influence of Trotskyist parties remained limited to only a few states (for example in Latin America or Sri Lanka ). In the 1950s and early 1960s, Trotskyist parties supported, among other things, the successful outcome of the FLN's war of independence in Algeria against France ( see also below ).

The Spanish left communist party Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM) played a relatively important role alongside the anarcho-syndicalist trade union Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) during the Spanish civil war against the troops of General Franco between 1936 and 1939.

The Soviet Union was the only major power to supply the republic with arms. Previously, Stalin had tried in vain to induce Great Britain and France to intervene against the fascist states Germany and Italy, which gave Franco massive support. The Communist Party of Spain (PCE; Communist Party of Spain) founded in 1921 , initially a small political force, gained a dominant position within the Republic's Popular Front government . The communists turned against the anarchist revolution and tried to win the petty bourgeoisie on their side. Furthermore, they shaped the military strategy of the republic more and more, which also provoked strong internal political frictions. On May 1, 1937, street fighting broke out in Barcelona between communists on the one hand and anarchists and left-wing communists on the other.

Similar to Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, Spain was still heavily agricultural. The anarchists of the CNT and their militant arm, the Federación Anarquista Ibérica (FAI), had a social base of millions. Due to the selective arms deliveries, the domestic political situation and the mistakes of the anarchist leaders in dealing with power, the communists were able to expand their influence at the expense of this group. The internally divided socialists of the PSOE also fell into the pull of communist influence. The strong “revolutionary” wing, anchored above all in the trade union, had to submit.

The POUM was viewed by the PCE and Stalin as a counter-revolutionary organization, turned off as a political force and driven into illegality. At the same time, the communists, together with the liberals, put the revolution on the defensive and also took physical action against collectives. The corresponding competition between the PCE on the one hand and POUM or CNT on the other hand and the ideologically conditioned two-front war that ultimately developed from it contributed to the fact that at the end of the Spanish Civil War Franco, supported by Hitler and Mussolini , was victorious and the Francoist dictatorship shaped Spain for 36 years. The CNT, the POUM, the PCE and other parties were then banned in Spain under Franco. Franco was able to hold power until his death in 1975.

In the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1970s and 1980s there were Trotskyist parties, for example the politically relatively insignificant group Internationale Marxisten (GIM), the PSG , which took part in the federal election in 2005 , and various other small splinter parties .

Under fascism in the 1930s and 40s: underground, resistance and imprisonment in a concentration camp

Spain was the third fascist state in Europe after Italy (since 1922) and Germany (since 1933). During the time of fascism, communist parties were banned in the respective states. Its members were often arrested or interned in concentration camps (for example in the German Reich) and often murdered there if they were unable to escape into exile. For example, the chairman of the KPD, Ernst Thälmann , was interned for eleven years from 1933 until he was shot in Buchenwald concentration camp in 1944 . The leading theorist of the Italian KPI , Antonio Gramsci , died in prison in 1937, also after eleven years in prison.

Some communists illegally continued their political activity underground in life-threatening conditions. In Germany, for example, communists gathered in the espionage organizationRote Kapelle ”, where they worked underground in the resistance against National Socialism in the Soviet Union , especially during the Second World War . In exile, communists also worked to maintain the structure of the party and to prepare for its reorganization after the war. The exiled KPD in Moscow under Wilhelm Pieck propagated a popular front policy against fascism from 1935 after the social fascism theory had been abandoned. This popular front policy was the prerequisite for the later compulsory unification of the SPD and KPD to form the SED in the Soviet occupation zone in 1946. During the Second World War, the respective communist parties played a leading role in the fight against , especially in France , Albania , Greece , Italy and Yugoslavia the fascist occupying power and influenced the partisan war in a decisive function. The role of the CPs in the struggle for liberation from fascism in these countries led after the war to the fact that the respective communist parties also achieved influential positions independently of the CPSU. In Albania (under Enver Hoxha ) and Yugoslavia (under Josip Broz Tito ) the CPs came to power after the liberation and were able to establish different, independent forms of communism over the decades.

Soviet Union 1924 to after 1945: Stalinism until after the end of World War II

At the 14th party congress of the CPSU in 1925, Stalin's position, his course and his theses on building socialism in one country were consolidated. At the time of Stalinism in the USSR (1924–1953), many communist parties in other countries followed the model of the CPSU: The party structure called “democratic centralism” had a party congress at which the delegates present elected a central committee , which then elected the Politburo . De facto , however, the Politburo represented an uncontrolled power unit and dominated the Central Committee, which in turn ensured that the elections at the party congress took place “as desired”.

In almost all countries in which a communist party formed the government (especially in the Eastern Bloc states after the end of the Second World War), opposition parties were banned or forcibly assimilated during the time of Stalinism . Stalin endowed himself with dictatorial power and built around himself a personality cult that was unprecedented until then, and which almost assumed features of religious madness .

On December 1, 1934, Party Secretary Sergei Mironowitsch Kirov was killed in an attack. Stalin took this attack as an opportunity to target actual or even supposed opponents inside and outside the party in the so-called Stalinist purges , which were called the “Great Chistka ” (Russian: “ Great Purge ”), especially between 1935 and 1939, sometimes after spectacular ones To eliminate show trials (see Moscow trials ). If they were not executed, they were sentenced to long prison terms or to exile . To this end, a system of penal and labor camps that had been set up under Lenin in the 1920s was expanded: the so-called “ Gulag ”, which the writer and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn made known to a global public through his publications since the 1970s . There are different estimates of the death toll in the gulag; they range from a few hundred thousand to several million.

Economically, Stalin tried to bring the USSR up to the level of the western industrial nations through massive industrialization and the expansion of the rail network. With rigorous means, Stalin organized the forced collectivization of agriculture , as a result of which many farmers lost their livelihoods. He also vigorously fought against the Orthodox Church in the USSR. Many members of the clergy were killed or exiled to labor camps. In many places there was an iconoclasm in the Orthodox churches and the destruction of Christian insignia .

With the Hitler-Stalin Pact of August 1939, in the secret additional protocol of which Poland and other areas of Eastern Europe were divided up between Germany and the USSR, Stalin hoped to prevent his ideological opponent Hitler from going to war against the USSR. Stalin defenders take the view that Stalin only wanted to buy time to strengthen the Red Army until the impending war. When the German attack on the Soviet Union came in 1941 with the “ Operation Barbarossa ” , Stalin and the Red Army were initially surprised and taken by surprise. Stalin was dependent on the support of the USA with arms deliveries over the North Sea . The German Wehrmacht was able to advance to Moscow and Stalingrad (today: Volgograd ) in an extermination campaign. In the winter of 1942/43, the turning point came after the Soviet Union had defeated the 6th German Army in the Battle of Stalingrad . The Wehrmacht was pushed back and finally defeated (see also Battle of Berlin ). The victory over the Nazi dictatorship in the “ Great Patriotic War ” gave Stalin new impetus from 1945 onwards.

In the course of the war in 1943 the Third International ( Comintern ) was dissolved out of consideration for the western allies USA and Great Britain. In 1947, after the beginning of the Cold War , after the USSR had expanded its power-political influence to the new Eastern Bloc states, it was replaced by the Communist Information Office ( Cominform ), which tried to subordinate the CPs, especially in Eastern Europe, even more than before to the requirements of the CPSU. Finally, the Cominform dissolved by 1956/1957 in the course of the later de-Stalinization and the communist ideologies that the CPSU could no longer stop, especially in China. Nevertheless, until the fall of the USSR around 1990/1991, the CPSU continued to maintain a significant, if gradually decreasing, influence on many CPs in other countries.

Development of communist parties by the end of the 1940s


In the People's Republic of Hungary , which was founded in 1918 after the First World War, the Communist Party of Hungary came to power under Béla Kun , who founded a Soviet republic there, which only existed for about 4 months and ended in early August 1919 by a conservative-authoritarian government has been.

The Communist Party of Finland , which was initially of great importance after it was founded in 1918, lost it again in the same year after the Finnish Civil War . It regained greater influence when Stalin installed a communist government under Otto W. Kuusinen there during the Soviet-Finnish winter war of 1939/1940 .

In the illegality of Spain , a new communist party was built in 1942, which was led from exile from 1942 to 1960 by Dolores Ibárruri Gómez (“La Pasionaria”) and later, from 1960 by Santiago Carrillo . ( For Spain up to 1939 see above )

In addition to those already mentioned, other CPs hardly played an important political role until 1945 and many afterwards, at least in Western Europe . - Apart from the CPs of Eastern Europe in the course of the Soviet hegemony after the Second World War ( see below ).

Most of the European CPs were founded between 1918 and 1923 and often emerged from splits of the social democratic or socialist parties of the respective states. At least until 1945 they were primarily oriented towards the USSR and were national sections of the Comintern. In summary, communist parties were founded in Europe in the following countries:


The French Communist Party ( PCF ; French: Parti communiste français , PCF) was founded in 1920. Under the chairmanship of Maurice Thorez , the party achieved 15.3% of the vote in the 1936 elections and supported the Socialist Popular Front government under Léon Blum . The PCF leadership always followed unconditionally the instructions of the Comintern from the Soviet Union . The support of the Hitler-Stalin Pact brought her a devastating party ban after the beginning of the Second World War in 1939. Against the German occupation of France that followed in June 1940 , the PCF has been all the more involved in the Resistance since Germany's attack on the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941 . This commitment gave the party strong support in the French nation after the liberation from fascism. In the Fourth Republic , the PCF became a mass party . In the 1946 elections it received 28.6% of the vote.

( Further development of the PCF see below )


The Communist Party of Italy (KPI, Italian Partito Comunista Italiano - PCI) was founded in 1921 by Amadeo Bordiga , Antonio Gramsci and Palmiro Togliatti . It emerged from the Socialist Party of Italy PSI ( Partito Socialista Italiano ). After the seizure of fascism under Benito Mussolini , the party acted after it was banned in 1926, from the ground out against fascism. Gramsci was arrested and died in 1937 shortly after he was released from prison , where he continued to work as a communist theorist and worked out some of the foundations for the later development of Eurocommunism , which was largely to come from the Italian Communist Party. Amadeo Bordiga was expelled in 1930 due to his opposition to the party's Stalinist course. He was active until his death in 1970 and headed the International Communist Party , founded in 1943 .

During the Second World War, the banned PCI played a leading role in the Italian resistance . From 1945 the party, with 1.8 million members at the time, was the Communist Party of Western Europe with the largest number of members and then exercised significant influence on the politics of democratic Italy at times. After the war, the PCI, in its increasing demarcation from the policies of the CPSU in the USSR, also shaped the development of some Western European CPs as a whole.

( Further development of the PCI see below )


The Communist Party of Greece KKE (Kommounistikó Kómma Elládas) emerged in 1920 from the Social Democratic Labor Party. Immediately after its foundation, it was banned and initially continued to work out of illegality . During the Second World War, the KKE dominated the National Liberation Front (EAM) and the People's Liberation Army ELAS in the resistance against the German occupation . After the liberation from the National Socialists, there was a civil war in Greece ( Greek Civil War ) in 1944 , in which the party did not achieve its goal of gaining power in the country. Banned again in 1947, its last fighters were finally defeated by government troops in 1949.

( For further development of the KKE see below )


The Communist Party of Belgium was founded in 1921. It existed until 1989.


The Communist Party of Yugoslavia was founded in 1919, but banned as early as 1920, although within a year it had become the third largest party in the country. In the 1940s, the party shaped the resistance against the German occupiers. The Croatian general Josip Broz Tito , who organized the partisan war against the National Socialists particularly effectively, became a charismatic leading figure of the Yugoslav communists during the war . The Communist Party managed to form a provisional government in 1943 on its own. After the war, Yugoslavia under Tito pursued its own, independent path to communism by building a federal state structure and workers' self-government , which in 1948 led to a rift with Stalin's CPSU in the USSR and to its exclusion from the Cominform.

( Development after 1945 see below )


The Communist Party of Albania was not founded until 1941. She played a leading role in the resistance of the national liberation front against the Axis powers Germany and Italy during the Second World War. After the war, the chairman of the Communist Party of Germany, Enver Hoxha, pushed through a one-party rule based on Stalinism with his “ Party of Labor ”.

( Development after 1945 see below )

North America and Australia

In other continents, too, communist parties were founded around the early 1920s. In the USA (founded in 1919), Canada (founded in 1921) and Australia (founded in 1920), the CPs had almost no significance in the official politics of the respective states.

In the United States in particular, communists and other socialists were exposed to particular repression at times . Long before the McCarthy era of the 1950s ( see below ), fear of the influence of communist movements was particularly strong around 1920, shortly after the Russian October Revolution. A well-known example of the US sensitivity to communists and other left-wing party members was the trial of the two workers from Italy, the anarchist immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti , who were accused of robbery and murder on flimsy evidence . Relief material was made to disappear when there was no other way to suppress it. Sacco and Vanzetti were sentenced to death and in 1927 - against the protests of an international mass movement for their release - after seven years on death row, they were executed on the electric chair . It was not until 1977 that they were posthumously rehabilitated. Today it is undisputed that the two were innocent and that their conviction, due to the widespread anti-communism in the USA, was politically motivated and wanted by the relevant circles.

( For further developments in the USA see below )

Latin America

The CPs, which were founded in many countries in South America and Central America between 1919 and the 1930s, often played more important roles there than in the industrialized countries of the non-European continents, even if most of them were excluded from government participation. Until the late 1940s, only the Communist Party of Chile was involved in government in Chile in 1938.

The first CP in Latin America was that of Argentina , founded in 1918. It was followed by the CP of Mexico ( PCM ) in 1919, then the Uruguayan in 1920, Brazil ( PCB ) in 1922, Cubas ( Communist Party of Cuba ) in 1925, Peru in 1928, the CPs of Colombia and Costa Rica , Venezuela ( Partido Comunista de Venezuela ) 1931 and Ecuador ( Partido Comunista del Ecuador ) 1931 and the Communist Party of Nicaragua 1937.

( For further developments in Latin America see below under Cold War and After the Cold War )


In Africa , communist parties only played a more important role after the Second World War in the course of decolonization there and in part in the context of proxy wars caused by the Cold War ( see below ).


With the exception of today 's People's Republic of China ( see below ) and Mongolia ( see ebf. Below ), the role of the Asian CPs, similar to that in Africa, was mainly of greater importance only after the Second World War. However, CPs were founded relatively early in individual Asian states and colonies, for example alongside China and Mongolia ...

Cold War: 1946 through the late 1980s

The period of the Cold War , which was based on ideological, social, economic, technological and military competition (forced by the development of nuclear weapons, first the USA, then the USSR) between the great powers USA on the one hand and the USSR on the other, was an era in of the communist parties in many countries of the world gained increasing importance.

There were different phases during the Cold War. The first phase from 1947 to the 1970s was characterized by sometimes severe political crises between the great powers, which at times brought the world close to the brink of nuclear war .

In Germany during the occupation (see occupation zone ), the Berlin blockade by the USSR came in 1948 after the unilateral currency reform in the three western zones , which was lifted again after the American " airlift " had supplied Berlin . 1961 followed the construction of the Berlin Wall and the erection of the so-called Iron Curtain , which separated the Eastern Bloc in Europe from the West by a heavily guarded and secured border, not only in a political-diplomatic sense.

Aerial photo with Soviet missile positions in Cuba

The stationing of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba led to the Cuba Crisis in 1963 , in which, after two weeks of tense diplomatic battle, a nuclear war was prevented, so to speak, at the last moment by the two governments giving in. The USSR under Khrushchev withdrew its missiles from Cuba. In return, under President John F. Kennedy , the United States removed American nuclear missiles from Turkey that had been stationed there for some time .

Korean War - Air raid on the North Korean port city of Wonsan

Other important global political critical situations were, for example, the Korean War in the early 1950s, the suppression of reform communist efforts in the Hungarian popular uprising in 1956 and the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia in 1968 by the USSR as well as the Indochina War and the Vietnam War , which took the lead from 1963/64 to 1973 Participation of the USA on the side of South Vietnam took place. It was waged against the communist Việt Minh of North Vietnam , which was successful in the Indochina war against the colonial power France until 1954, under the chairman of the Vietnamese CP Ho Chi Minh and against the opposition guerrilla movement of the Viet Cong in South Vietnam. After the US withdrew in 1973, the Viet Cong won until 1975 and unified the two Vietnamese states under communist rule.

The second phase of the Cold War was a policy of relaxation first in Europe under the new Ostpolitik of the Federal Government under Willy Brandt initiated, which is after recording increased diplomatic contacts with the countries of the Warsaw Pact and the international recognition of the GDR by In the Basic Treaty, the Federal Republic succeeded in making the border of the “Iron Curtain” somewhat more permeable.

Even before the United States withdrew from the Vietnam War in 1973, the critical situation in Southeast Asia eased somewhat when US President Richard Nixon established diplomatic contacts with the People's Republic of China under Mao Zedong ; and later also to the USSR, with which the SALT I Agreement on the Limitation of Strategic Weapons was concluded.

Nonetheless, Cambodia , a neighboring country of Vietnam, remained a source of unrest in Southeast Asia until 1978 under the three-year reign of terror of the Pol Pot regime and thereafter.

In Laos , another neighboring state of Vietnam, communists came to power in 1975 as a result of the bloodless revolution by the Pathet Lao . You have remained in government to this day.

Despite the improved relations as a result of the policy of détente , the 1970s were also riddled with crises and wars that were dominated by the East-West conflict . In addition to the Afghan war mentioned above, there are various civil wars in the course of decolonization , especially in Africa: For example, the Algerian war from the 1950s to the early 1960s, then in Congo , and from the mid-1970s in Mozambique , Angola and other countries , where mostly communist liberation and independence movements played important roles. This also includes guerrilla fights, revolutions and coups in many Latin American countries with at least indirect participation by the superpowers for one side or the other.

In addition, the great powers continued to be highly armed against each other with an enormous destructive potential of nuclear weapons and other means of mass destruction , which had been developed by the USSR since the end of the Second World War after the USA. In the USSR in particular, the arms race led to the consumption of important financial resources , which ultimately contributed to the economic and ultimately also the political decline of the USSR.

During the Cold War, the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan (1979 to 1989) in support of the communist government that had come to power through a coup against the increasingly authoritarian Afghan republic against various Islamic and Islamist states supported by the USA and some Islamic states took place Rebel groups that came together under the name of mujahideen .

With the politics of Perestroika and Glasnost Mikhail Gorbachev and the fall and democratization of most Eastern Bloc states from the domination of the USSR at the end of the 1980s, the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union and with it the end of the dominance of the CPSU in Russia and Eastern Europe.

China and Maoism

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under the leadership of Mao Zedong pursued its own communist path after the successful revolution that led to the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 - intensified from 1956, when it came to a worsening ideological conflict because of Khrushchev's policy of de-Stalinization until 1960 the break between China and the Soviet Union occurred. This development culminated in the Chinese Cultural Revolution initiated by Mao from 1966 onwards. It was based on the theory of a permanent revolutionary transformation of society; the communist ideals should be anchored in the entire Chinese people - by means of re-education and the eradication of all even supposedly counter-revolutionary approaches. There were also violent excesses under the guise of the party.

CCP: 1921 through the late 1980s

The CCP was founded in Shanghai in 1921, ten years after the founding of the Republic of China . It emerged from the Marxist part of the “ Movement of May Fourth ”, which arose for China from the dissatisfaction with the regulations of the Versailles Treaty after the First World War.

At first there were close ties between the party and the Kuomintang under Sun Yat-sen ; the CCP and the Kuomintang were initially jointly supported by the USSR. After the change in leadership in the Kuomintang, its new chairman, Chiang Kai-shek, began to forcibly eliminate the CCP in a civil war that began in 1927. This resulted in a massacre of several thousand communists in Shanghai by the Kuomintang. As a result, the remaining CCP assembled its own troops and built a socialist council republic in Jiangxi Province, south China . In doing so, Mao relied on the proletarian rural population as the basis for the revolutionary class struggle , with which he stood against the Marxist-Leninist doctrine , according to which the revolution should be carried by the urban revolutionary workers.

Mao withdrew with his army and his supporters on the famous, several thousand kilometers " Long March " to the northern Chinese province of Shaanxi in 1935 when the Soviet Republic in Jiangxi was attacked militarily by the Kuomintang. Mao's Long March, with which he avoided a final crackdown on the Chinese Communists, increased his personal influence in the leadership of the CCP.

With the hegemony of Japan , which increasingly threatened China, the alliance between the Kuomintang and the CCP was renewed in 1936. The Sino-Japanese War , which marked the beginning of the Second World War in Asia in 1937 and lasted until 1945, led to the joint struggle of both parties against the Japanese during the Second World War on the Asian mainland . But this conflict-laden alliance broke up again immediately after the defeat of Japan, and with it the end of the Second World War in Asia as well .

Another four-year civil war followed in China, from which the communists under Mao finally emerged victorious, and Mao was able to proclaim the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949 .

The Kuomintang withdrew to the island of Formosa , for China the province of Taiwan , where in 1950 they continued the national Chinese Republic of China (at that time also known as "national China ") its own, significantly smaller, Chinese state oriented towards the political west. This state is still not recognized by the People's Republic of China. Due to the military support of Taiwan and national China by the USA in the context of the Cold War, many political observers believe that the People's Republic has not intervened in Taiwan to date.

Portrait of Mao at the entrance to the Forbidden City

After the de-Stalinization by Khrushchev in the Soviet Union, a serious ideological conflict followed between China under Mao Zedong or the CCP and the USSR or the CPSU , in which the CCP rejected the dominance of the CPSU over the global communist movement. In addition, Mao, with his own ideology , Maoism , interpreted Marxism-Leninism differently than the CPSU. Mao had prepared his ideology for the general population in a small red book, the so-called " Mao Bible " , which was not only widely used in China .

The conflict between the two largest CPs in the world led to a further split in the CPs and to the establishment of Maoist CPs in some other countries in the world. With Maoist China, alongside the USSR and the USA, a third world power and a second communist great power entered the world political stage of the Cold War.

In 1966 Mao initiated the Cultural Revolution in China ( see above in the introductory section on China, Maoism ), which would not end until ten years later in 1976 with Mao's death. Until Mao's death, the so-called " Gang of Four " around Mao's third wife Jiang Qing influenced the structures and politics of the CCP. Mao himself had become increasingly incapacitated towards the end of his life. The "Gang of Four" was overthrown after Mao's death and sentenced to death in 1980; In 1983 the sentences were revised to life imprisonment . Jiang Quing committed in 1991 shortly after their release from prison suicide .

Meeting Mao with Nixon in Beijing 1972

Even before the end of the Vietnam War , the United States, with President Richard Nixon, established diplomatic contacts with the People's Republic of China for the first time, which initiated a certain détente policy in war-torn and crisis-torn Southeast Asia , with the aim of increasing the influence of the USSR in to weaken or prevent the region.

From 1978 onwards, the CCP - now under Deng Xiaoping - introduced primarily economic reforms with the so-called " Four Modernizations ", which also led to China's opening to the world market . However, these reforms had little impact on domestic politics in China, where the CCP remained the sole ruling state party .

The democracy movement , which was strengthened mainly by students in the 1980s (see subsection People's Republic of China in the article civil rights movement ), which also called for liberal and democratic reforms, became bloody with the use of tanks against a large demonstration of the democracy movement on Tian'anmen Square in 1989 dejected.

( For further developments in China see below )

The Eastern Bloc, Yugoslavia and Albania

Warsaw Pact, Comecon, de-Stalinization, perestroika and glasnost

After the Allied victory over Germany and the end of World War II, the USSR gained the upper hand over the Eastern European states of Poland , Czechoslovakia , Hungary , Romania , Bulgaria and the Soviet-occupied part of Germany (1945–1955 also included Eastern Austria). The German Democratic Republic (GDR) emerged in 1949 from the Soviet occupation zone, in which the SPD and KPD parties, which were banned under the Nazi dictatorship , were (forcibly) united to form the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) under Wilhelm Pieck and Otto Grotewohl . Together with the GDR, the aforementioned states, under the sovereignty of the USSR, formed the Eastern Warsaw Pact military alliance in 1955 in response to NATO, which had been founded by the USA and its western allies shortly before .

Albania was part of the Warsaw Pact until 1968, but left it again.

Economically, the countries of the Eastern bloc concluded in 1949 Comecon (CMEA), English: Comecon (Council for Mutual economic assistance) together. The Comecon formed the economic alliance to compete with the western OECD and the EEC (European Economic Community). By 1978, other communist states joined the Comecon, such as the Mongolian People's Republic in 1962, Cuba in 1972 and Vietnam in 1978. In the 1970s and 1980s, cooperation agreements were also concluded with some non-communist states, such as Finland , Mexico and Iraq .

Albania, member since 1949, left Comecon in 1968.

The Warsaw Pact countries were all ruled by Stalinist communist parties. After Stalin's death in 1953, Georgi Malenkov became General Secretary of the CPSU, whose office was taken over by Nikita Khrushchev that same year .

Reforms of the party in the USSR under Khrushchev ( de-Stalinization ) since February 1956 after his secret speech on the XX. CPSU party congresses , at which he exposed and criticized the policies of the Stalinist system and a large part of its crimes, were also introduced in the other Warsaw Pact states (except Albania). De-Stalinization left the CPSU with sole rule, but made the party again a collective decision-making body and weakened the position of the Secretary General in the Soviet Union.

Despite de-Stalinization, reform communist efforts that questioned or could question the supremacy of the CPSU continued to be suppressed within the Warsaw Pact. Corresponding reformist efforts or even uprisings, such as in Hungary in 1956 or in Czechoslovakia in 1968 ( Prague Spring ), were suppressed with military force if necessary. Even the workers' uprising in the GDR on June 17, 1953 - only a few months after Stalin's death - when the SED no longer seemed to be in control of the situation, was overrun by Soviet tanks .

In terms of foreign policy, de-Stalinization led, among other things, to an ideological conflict and finally to a break with China under Mao Zedong by the end of the 1950s, which resulted in a kind of communist schism because two different communist great powers now took on leading roles in world politics. Overall, however, Khrushchev's reforms were able to withstand varying degrees of restalinization under his successors Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev (1964 to 1982), Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov (1982 to 1984), Konstantin Ustinowitsch Tschernenko (1984/1985). Further decisive reforms, which were serious for communism as a whole, were finally introduced from 1985 under the Mikhail Gorbachev government .

( For further developments in the USSR, Russia and Eastern Europe see below )

Yugoslavia (Titoism) and Albania (isolation)

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (under Josip Broz Tito ) and Albania (under Enver Hoxha ) had a special role, each pursuing an independent direction of communism and initially because of the leading roles of the respective CPs in the resistance against the fascist and Nazi occupying powers during the Second World War had a relatively broad base in their populations.

Yugoslavia under the Prime Minister and later also President for Life Josip Broz Tito fell out with the CPSU as early as 1948 and was excluded from the Cominform ( see also above ). It was politically freer and economically followed a model that was more a market economy than a planned economy . Tito's model of the road to communism shaped the ideology of Titoism . Yugoslavia, along with Egypt and India, was one of the initiators of the alliance of non-aligned states founded in 1961 , which was joined by other states, likewise socialist Cuba and the Arab-revolutionary Libya under its revolutionary leader Muammar al-Gaddafi .

In Yugoslavia, Tito made sure that the republics of Serbia , Croatia , Montenegro , Slovenia , Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina had equal rights with one another. This policy of equality between the republics was gradually abandoned after Tito's death in 1980 and, at the latest after the takeover of party and state leadership under Slobodan Milošević, gave way to an increasing dominance of Serbia with increased Serbian nationalism , which led to increasing aspirations for autonomy in the other republics escalated into civil wars from the early 1990s after the declarations of independence by Slovenia, Macedonia, Croatia and Bosnia.

Albania ( see above ) initially had close ties to Yugoslavia under the party leadership of Enver Hoxhas until 1948. At times a unification of the two states was even considered. However, the relationship between the two states deteriorated drastically after Tito's break with Stalin.

The still strictly Stalinist CP of Albania (“Party of Labor”) distanced itself increasingly from the Soviet Union in the course of de-Stalinization in the USSR, albeit for different reasons than the Yugoslav CP, and increasingly turned to China and Maoism . Otherwise, Hoxha pursued a policy of demarcation from the outside and closed itself to any reforms . His domestic politics were marked by strong repressive controls.

In 1961 the USSR finally ended diplomatic relations with Albania, which after its expulsion from Comecon had to rely on economic support from China. Nevertheless, Albania remained a member of the Warsaw Pact for the time being, from which it only withdrew in 1968 in protest against the Soviet intervention in the ČSSR.

Albanian relations with China also deteriorated from the 1970s after Mao established diplomatic contacts with the USA. After several public criticism of China by Albania, China finally stopped its economic aid to the country in 1978. Albania remained essentially Stalinist until Hoxha's death in 1985.

In 1985 Ramiz Alia took over the leadership of the Communist Party in Albania. In the course of the democratic wave in the Eastern Bloc , reforms took place in Albania from the end of the 1980s, including the admission of other parties. Despite strong political unrest and, above all, student-sponsored mass demonstrations between 1989 and 1991, which led to the declaration of a state of emergency , the CP, which had since been renamed the Socialist Party of Albania (Partia Socialiste e Shqipërisë), won the first free parliamentary elections in Albania in 1991 . Partly due to the catastrophic economic situation, the mass demonstrations and unrest continued. There were also large waves of refugees during the 1990s. Many Albanians tried to get to Italy across the Adriatic .

After the parliamentary elections in 1992, a non-communist government came to power in Albania for the first time since World War II. However, the country remained shaken by crises.

The West and the USA - between electoral success and anti-communist repression

In Western Europe, the major communist parties in France and Italy were most successful in elections. From the late 1960s and 1970s they developed the independent ideology of Eurocommunism , in which the demand for a revolution was filed and the legitimacy of free elections and a multi-party system were accepted. Its high membership and electorate ensured acceptance of the Communist Party in a way that was often not the case in other Western countries. The communist parties often played a leading role in politics in France and Italy and were at times involved in governments.

Due to their rejection of existing economic and social structures in the West and the sometimes merely assumed willingness to bring about changes also by means of violence, communist parties were established in many western industrialized countries, especially in the USA , but also in the Federal Republic of Germany and other countries, viewed with great suspicion. Communist parties were often banned there or observed by secret services , especially during the Cold War .

France, up to the present

The Parti communiste français (PCF), which at the beginning of the fourth republic achieved a significant electoral success with 28.6 percent of the vote, was excluded from government participation in 1948 in the course of the Cold War. Nevertheless, it continued to have a broad social base, especially in the communist trade union CGT, which is still strong to this day .

Under General Secretary Waldeck Rochet until the end of the 1960s, the PCF gave up its Moscow orientation and committed itself to peaceful coexistence , the pluralistic system and the majority principle , making it the most important representative of Eurocommunism . Under Georges Marchais , the party became the strongest faction in the French National Assembly in 1973 with 20.6 percent . At the end of the 1970s, the party's influence declined again from 1979 , primarily because of its positive attitude towards the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan , but rose again in the 1980s. Between 1981 and 1984 the PCF placed four ministers in François Mitterrand's socialist government . From 1997 to 2002 the party was again involved in government under the socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin . At present, the party is the communist party with the largest number of members in Western Europe, with around 135,000 members.


After the Second World War, the Communist Party of Italy (KPI, Italian PCI) was the largest CP in Western Europe with 1.8 million members . From 1947 to 1964, Palmiro Togliatti was General Secretary of the PCI. With the independence course of polycentrism , the party under his leadership increasingly differentiated itself from the CPSU. Togliatti's successor Luigi Longo (1964 to 1972) continued his policy. Under Longo, the PCI condemned the invasion of the ČSSR by the Warsaw Pact states in 1968, which resulted in the suppression of the reform communist Prague Spring under Alexander Dubček . With General Secretary Enrico Berlinguer at the head of the PCI from 1972 to 1984, the party was indirectly involved in the 1976 government in a coalition with the Democrazia Cristiana (DC) after an electoral success that brought it 34.4% of the vote . Under Berlinguer, Eurocommunism was officially formulated as the third path between Soviet communism and social democracy . The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the suppression of the independent trade union Solidarność in Poland by the Polish CP and the CPSU were condemned. In 1990 the PCI finally turned away from communism and renamed itself to ( Partito Democratico della Sinistra , translated: Democratic Party of the Left ) ( see also below )

Greece, to the present

After the final defeat of the communists in the Greek Civil War, the KKE , which was initially banned in 1949, was part of the “United Democratic Left” (EDA) from 1951 to 1967. Under the military dictatorship of the colonel's regime from 1967 to 1974 a period of persecution and prohibition began again. While still in the banned party, the Eurocommunist wing split off from the Marxist-Leninist KKE under the name “ Greek Communist Party (Inland) ”. After the collapse of the military dictatorship in 1974, which was also supported by the US and the other NATO countries, first the Conservatives came Nea Dimokratia (ND; "New Democracy") under Konstantinos Karamanlis to the government. In 1981, the social democratic party PASOK was more successful than the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in the parliamentary elections and established the new government. In 1987 the Inland CP was renamed the " Greek Left ". The Greek Left and KKE joined forces in 1988 to form the electoral alliance “ Coalition of the Left and Progress ” ( Synaspismós tis Aristerás kai tis Proódou ), which formed a coalition with the ND after the 1989 elections and provided three ministers to deal with corruption affairs of the previous PASOK government to enlighten. However, this coalition only lasted a few months. In 1991, the Left Alliance dissolved officially on with the departure of the KKE, but exists as a social democratic left alliance under the name SY.RIZ.A continue. Above all, the still Marxist-Leninist KKE, but also SYRIZA, have regained increasing importance in recent years. In the parliamentary elections in May 2012 , SYRIZA was the second strongest party with 16.8%, the KKE came fourth with 8.5%.

Turkey - From the late 1960s to today

In Turkey, in the wake of the so-called 1968 movement , the military intervention in politics in 1971, the repressive political climate and social tensions, a new communist movement emerged that was largely militant and less influenced by the politics of the CPSU was influenced. Before that there was the Workers' Party of Turkey (TIP), which was founded in the early 1960s , but it only worked legally - had some parliamentary election successes - subsequently lost influence and drifted into insignificance. In the early 1970s, in the course of radicalization, the Maoist Turkish Communist Party / Marxist-Leninist (TKP / ML) and its Guerrilla Workers and Peasants Liberation Army of Turkey (TIKKO), founded by İbrahim Kaypakkaya , the Turkish People’s Liberation Party Front (THKP -C) by Mahir Çayan and the People's Liberation Army of Turkey (THKO) by Deniz Gezmiş .

The Communist Party organizations that are still active today all emerged from these three initial organizations. The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) also has its roots in the developments of this movement in the early 1970s.

Today the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) exists in Turkey, which is forbidden according to the “anti-terror laws” there, as it fulfills the criminal offense of “armed gang”. The party is organized clandestinely and has armed or militant party structures, which are referred to as militias of the MLKP and, in addition to targeted attacks, mainly carry out armed street blockades and demonstrations and are involved in street fighting. In addition, it organizes itself primarily in companies and supports strikes and industrial disputes, but is also active in the district. It emerged from the merger of three organizations - TKP / ML-Hareketi , TKİH and TKP / ML (YİÖ) - only in 1994. According to some observers, the MLKP is likely to have some influence in the working-class and poor areas of the big cities as well as in the Kurdish areas and is probably already one of the strongest communist organizations in Turkey.

Furthermore, the longer existing Turkish Communist Party / Marxist-Leninist (TKP / ML) continues to exist unchanged - even after many splits in the course of its history. It is also anchored in the big cities and in some rural regions. The party is also banned and, with the help of its guerrilla TIKKO , carries out armed operations, some in rural areas, but also in cities during street fighting. In addition, the Maoist Communist Party (MKP) , which emerged as a split, exists as a different faction that also has an armed arm in the form of the People's Liberation Army (HKO). The TKP / ML faction is also known as the Partizan wing.

The Marxist-Leninist Revolutionary People's Liberation Front Party (DHKP-C) also exists in Turkey. It is listed there, but also in the European Union and the USA , as a “terrorist organization” and is also banned in Germany. In the early 1990s in particular, it had some influence in the large poor and working-class neighborhoods of the large Turkish cities. It promoted the establishment of so-called People's Councils and carried out a large number of attacks against people from business , the military and the state . Since 2001, DHKP-C members have also carried out suicide attacks . However, the number of attacks decreased significantly in the course of development - many of the actions carried out in recent years failed. In 2004, for example, a bomb exploded prematurely on a bus, killing four people as it was on the way to its destination. An attempted suicide attack on the justice building in Ankara ended in 2005 with the shooting of the DHKP-C member. Many members are incarcerated in Turkish prisons, and the organization appears to have weakened following massive law enforcement measures by the security forces in recent years. In addition, Dursun Karataş , their long-time general secretary, died in Amsterdam in August 2008 .

In addition, there have always been a few smaller - mostly legal - parties that do not fight armed. With the renaming of the former Party for Socialist Power (SİP), the Turkish Communist Party (TKP ) was created in 2001 as a small communist party, which felt obliged to the politics of the communist parties that were formerly oriented towards the Soviet Union and which held elections. After their split in 2014, the Communist Party (KP) and the Communist People's Party of Turkey (HTKP) emerged. Although all parties that call themselves communist have been banned in Turkey so far, the latter have not yet been banned. The also legal and electoral Workers' Party (EMEP) emerged from the former, illegal Revolutionary Communist Party of Turkey (TDKP) .


In Portugal , the communist party PCP survived the fascist dictatorship under António de Oliveira Salazar, which had been in existence since 1932, as a major social force . In 1974 the resistance culminated in the non-violent so-called Carnation Revolution . With a population of 10 million Portuguese, the party developed into a mass party with 150,000 members. The PCP, which was part of the government until 1976, played a leading role under its general secretary Álvaro Cunhal in the democratization process and in the formation of the unified trade union headquarters CGTP - Intersindical .

The PCP is one of the most successful communist parties in Western Europe. It has the advantage over most other left-wing parties in Europe that it has a counterpart in the field of trade unions , CGTP-IN . In elections, she competes within the CDU electoral alliance. The party is explicitly committed to Marxism-Leninism . In its internal structure, the PCP still insists on democratic centralism . Decisions are discussed extensively, but are binding on all party members after the decision.

Changes and successes of the Carnation Revolution were the restoration of democracy and the dismissal of the African colonies, including Angola and Mozambique , in the Independence .

Long civil wars followed independence there , which also developed into proxy wars in the Cold War and where the Marxist liberation movements MPLA in Angola and FRELIMO in Mozambique finally prevailed , albeit with concessions to the respective opposing parties and certain adjustments to the political "West" could.

( Angola see below , Mozambique see below )

At the 17th Congress of the Communist Party of Portugal (PCP), 1,298 delegates elected a Central Committee of 176 members. Carlos Carvalhas , who had led the party as general secretary since 1992, did not run again at his own request. The 57-year-old Jerónimo de Sousa was elected as the new General Secretary .

At the party congress, the PCP reaffirmed its negative stance on the European constitution . This is a project of neoliberalism and committed to the interests of international monopoly capital, which restricts the sovereign rights of the smaller member states and is therefore not in the national interest of Portugal.

In addition, the party congress rejected membership of the PCP in the »European Left Party«. Given the diversity of ideological positions, a supranational party would not meet the requirements in the current situation, but would rather be a concession to the structures of the European Union (EU).

Spain, to the present

Communist parties were banned in Spain under the fascism of General Franco until his death in 1975. Two years after Franco's death and the reintroduction of a pluralistic democratic system under a constitutional monarchy, the Communist Party of Spain , which had been re-established illegally in 1942 and headed from exile, was re-admitted in 1977. Until 1982 the party was led by Santiago Carrillo and followed the eurocommunist line of the CPs in Italy and France. In the new democracy, however, the PCE had to cede many voters to the socialists and has remained without any significant political influence in Spain to this day.

Great Britain, to the present

Founded in 1921 Communist Party of Great Britain ( Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB)) was from 1945 to 1950 with two seats in the House represented. At times the rather small CP compared to the large CPs in France and Italy had a relatively strong backing in various industrial areas of the United Kingdom. In the course of the Soviet interventions in Hungary in 1956 and in the Czechoslovakia in 1968, the CPGB in Great Britain also increasingly lost support from its electorate, although it condemned the crackdown on the Prague Spring. Otherwise, like other, smaller Communist parties and groups in Great Britain, the CPGB was mostly in the shadow of the Labor Party .

For a long time the Labor Party was a left-wing social democratic people 's party , in which at times there was a relatively strong Trotskyist wing. However, especially under Tony Blair as British Prime Minister in the present, the majority of the Labor Party increasingly deviated from a relatively left course and turned to neoliberalism .

The CPGB disbanded in 1991 in the course of the changes in the Eastern Bloc. The Communist Party of Britain and other communist splinter groups continue to function as the CP, although they have almost no significant influence on the official politics of Great Britain.

Federal Republic of Germany 1946 to 1989: KPD ban, radical decree, new KPD foundations

In 1946 the SPD and KPD were forced to merge to form the SED in the Soviet zone of occupation . The KPD only played a subordinate role in the western zone . There it stood in the shadow of the SPD, which for many West Germans was seen as the more important political representation of workers' interests, and initially represented measures that were also called for by the KPD, such as the nationalization of some areas of heavy industry .

The KPD's supporters in western Germany had also been significantly decimated by the murder of many of its members in the concentration camps of the Nazi dictatorship. Most of the surviving communists who had returned from exile placed their hopes in a communist social development emanating from East Germany under the roof and protection of the USSR. Accordingly, many of them were mainly involved in the Soviet occupation zone , the subsequent GDR , for or in the SED . The West German KPD lacked these potential members.

When the Federal Republic was founded in 1949 , the West German KPD was still represented with a small parliamentary group in the first German Bundestag until 1953. She refused to bind the CDU government under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer to the West and demanded the acceptance of the Stalin Notes , which essentially demanded neutrality and demilitarization of Germany as a prerequisite for the abolition of the division of Germany .

Unlike Austria, where division of the country was avoided, Adenauer did not accept these conditions. He continued his policy of economic and military orientation towards the West, which was geared in particular to the specifications of the USA, which laid the foundation for the economic success of West Germany in the so-called " economic miracle " of the 1950s and early 1960s with the Marshall Plan .

After the Bundestag elections in 1953, the KPD fell below the five percent threshold and then played no role at the parliamentary level in the Bund. In the Federal Republic of Germany the KPD was finally banned in 1956 by the Federal Constitutional Court as " contrary to the constitution " (see KPD ban ).

In 1968 the German Communist Party (DKP) was founded in the Federal Republic of Germany . The DKP saw itself as the successor to the KPD and oriented itself politically to the SED in the GDR, but remained without significant parliamentary influence in the Federal Republic except for minor municipal successes (e.g. in Tübingen or Marburg and some cities in the Ruhr area ). The so-called three-state theory arose from the development of the thesis of the development of a socialist German nation in the GDR. That is why the DKP did not set up its own regional association in West Berlin. Instead, the Socialist Unity Party of West Berlin (SEW) was the communist party in the "independent political unit of West Berlin". Furthermore, various smaller communist splinter parties, the so-called K groups, were founded .

In the 1970s, members of the DKP in particular were again exposed to state repression, especially when they sought employment in the public service as employees or civil servants . By the radicals adoption (from the emergent contrast protest movement and prohibitions called) of the SPD / FDP - government under Chancellor Willy Brandt (SPD) many were denied a corresponding career of them.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the DKP, along with other communist splinter groups, took part in various alliances in the protests of the New Social Movements , especially in the peace movement and the anti-nuclear movement . The DKP was less well received by the opponents of nuclear power , however, because it considered the nuclear power plants in Eastern Europe to be safer because they were " under the control of the people "; an argument that was dismissed ridiculous for most assets of the anti-nuclear movement as more and by the nuclear disaster in 1986 in the Ukrainian Chernobyl also the absurd was performed.

( For further developments in Germany, see below )

Communist parties and developments in Western Europe until the 1980s

The Communist Party of Austria ( KPÖ ) was represented as a small faction in the Austrian National Council from 1945 to 1959 for only four years after the occupation of the Allies and had to limit itself to extra-parliamentary activities afterwards. After the Second World War, Austria was similar to Germany, but longer than there, until 1955, divided into four zones of occupation under the four victorious powers USA, France, Great Britain and the USSR. The representation of the KPÖ in the National Council at this time was mainly due to the presence of the Soviet Union as an occupying power . A division of post-war Austria into two different state systems as in Germany could be avoided because Austria, unlike the Federal Republic of Germany, had agreed to the conditions of Stalin, for example the obligation of neutrality between the blocs. After Austria's full state sovereignty was regained and the occupying powers withdrew through the Austrian State Treaty , the KPÖ clearly lost its political influence and importance.

The CP of Finland has been involved in various Popular Front governments in the eastern Scandinavian country since 1966 .

In the 1960s and 1970s, in some Western European countries (especially in West Germany, Italy, Great Britain and France), after the waning student movement, small, often fiercely competing communist so-called splinter parties emerged , some of which differed from the communist concepts that had been handed down in Europe followed. In addition to the attempt by some to revive Stalinism, other concepts represented Trotskyism , Maoism or other new / alternative left-wing social designs , which were often oriented towards the liberation movements of developing countries and emerging countries or showed solidarity with them ( anti-imperialism ) (see also New Social Movements ).

USA to the Present: McCarthy Era and Importance of the CPUSA

In anti-communist states, individuals who belonged to or were close to a communist party also experienced problems.

In the USA, in the early 1950s, in the so-called McCarthy era , named after the right-wing Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy, there was a real hunt against communists and their sympathizers . In a Senate committee on un-American activities , many prominent and non-prominent Americans or foreigners living in the USA had to undergo, in some cases degrading, public interrogations . Among them was a German émigré, the poet and dramaturge Bertolt Brecht .

In the USA it was mainly scientists and artists , especially from the film business and the entertainment industry , who lost their jobs in the McCarthy era and were exposed to social ostracism . The famous and legendary British actor , socially critical director and film comedian Charlie Chaplin did not return from a trip to Europe in 1952 to protest against this practice of political denunciation and extreme anti-communism , and he settled in Switzerland.

In all of this, the US Communist Party hardly played a significant role in the US itself, also because its general secretary, Gus Hall , was himself in prison for a long time and weakened the party by excluding voices critical of the Stalinist-Leninist course. It was best known through the activities of individual distinguished members on certain occasions, for example through the journalist and writer John Reed , who had written a large report on the October Revolution in 1917 and who was temporarily the US delegate to the Third International; or by the Afro-American activist Angela Davis , who was involved in the US student movement of the 1960s and who became known through protests against the Vietnam War .

Developing and emerging countries

In some countries, the so-called Cold War Third World who were far gained independence from the colonial powers, or where the west supported dictatorships ruled tried by revolutions and civil wars to power has come communist parties that often made guerrillas - or liberation movements emerged ( Cuba ) or were partly synonymous with them ( Nicaragua , Mozambique , Angola , Algeria ) to implement an improvement in conditions against the resistance of counterrevolutionary forces, often financed by the USA; For example in the form of social changes in favor of the poorer classes, educational programs , expropriations by foreign corporations , free medical care, etc.

The corresponding movements were not necessarily popular there because of their ideology , but because of their opposition to the ruling elite and the great power or colonial power behind it , which often enough used repressive methods against the majority of the population. As in China, the communists in Vietnam succeeded in picking up the aspirations within the population for independence. The social services and the higher acceptance of the communist leadership, due to their adaptation to the needs of the urban and above all rural lower classes , had made both CPs attractive for the majority. By contrast, structural corruption , nepotism and manifestations of organized crime were predominant among their opponents .

In many countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, with a few exceptions, such as Mongolia , Libya (there was a communist style there), Algeria, Vietnam , Laos , North Korea or Cuba, communists were only able to achieve political success over a longer period of time comparatively rarely ( see also below ).

In some other states, where governments came to power with promises shaped by communism, they sometimes created state-terrorist regimes that ultimately had little in common with communism, however you might imagine it. Social, economic and societal changes in the sense of a communist idea were often dropped in favor of maintaining personal power and the associated privileges of the corresponding dictators, who were mostly only able to stay in power with the help of the military.


One CP that was in power in Central Asia for a relatively long period of time was the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party ( MRVP ), which was oriented towards the CPSU of the USSR and had come to power in Mongolia ( Mongolian People's Republic ) with the help of the USSR as early as 1924 ; from 1940 until his deposition in 1984 under the leadership of the dictator Tsedenbal , who, after the adoption of a new constitution, had also taken over the leadership of Mongolia. The MRVP's system of sole rule only ended after a wave of large demonstrations for democratization of the country in 1990, during which the party renounced its monopoly of power and allowed other parties and free elections. Nevertheless, the MRVP remained successful in the elections until 1996 in the Republic of Mongolia , as the state was called after the constitutional amendment in 1992, and continued to provide the government under democratic and pluralistic auspices. Only after the 1996 elections did the MRVP, after 75 years , have to surrender its government power to a coalition of various other democratic parties that jointly opposed the MRVP and campaigned for a free market economy .

Vietnam: Indochina War and Vietnam War

In Vietnam , under the party leader Ho Chi Minh, the Vi untert Minh rebels prevailed against France in the Indochina War from 1946 to 1954 after the legendary battle of Điện Biên Phủ . After the division of the country in North Vietnam, they again proclaimed the now independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam under the rule of Ho Chi Minh's Communist Party, the “Party of the Vietnamese Working People”. From 1957 onwards there were repeated border conflicts and skirmishes with pro-western South Vietnam , which in turn went through various regime changes .

The civil war between North and South Vietnam escalated from around 1963 after the US-backed regime under Ngô Đình Diệm in South Vietnam to the Vietnam War against North Vietnam and the opposition South Vietnamese guerrilla movement FNL . The US government feared that the relatively successful example of North Vietnam would spread communism further across Southeast Asia and ultimately tried to prevent such a domino effect with its military intervention . The strong resistance of the communist guerrillas against the technically superior military machinery of the Americans made it necessary for President Lyndon B. Johnson from the mid-1960s to move massive troop contingents and heavy military equipment to Vietnam and subject the country to heavy bombing. Under Richard Nixon , who carried out a gradual withdrawal of troops from 1969, the situation of the Americans did not improve significantly.

Dead Viet Cong fighters 1968

The ten-year US military campaign in the Vietnam War could not prevent the Communists from winning. In 1973 the USA withdrew from its commitment, which was overshadowed by many war crimes and atrocities , not least as a result of the protests in its own country . The client state in the south could not be maintained. The Vietnam War had cost the lives of at least 1.5 million people on the Vietnamese side and around 58,000 soldiers on the American side.

The US attempt to stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia by force had failed. Communist revolutions also broke out in the neighboring states of Vietnam - Laos and Cambodia, which had become involved in the course of the war - which overthrew the regimes allied with the United States . The Viet Cong defeated the last South Vietnamese units by 1975. In 1976, the official unification of North Vietnam with South Vietnam followed under the rule of the Communist Party, which is in government there to this day ( see below ).


In Cambodia , the Khmer Rouge took power with the support of North Vietnam in 1975 after overthrowing the republic under General Lon Nol , who himself came to power through a coup against King Sihanouk and embroiled Cambodia in the Vietnam War on the side of South Vietnam and the USA had by blocking the retreat and supply routes for the Viet Cong. Pol Pot , the leader of the Khmer Rouge, established an extremely cruel regime in the country over several years, where he wanted to implement Maoism in its most extreme form, for example with the forced relocation of the urban population to the countryside and executions even if there was little evidence of civic ambition . More than a million people fell victim to the Pol Pot regime until 1978, when Communist Vietnam, which Pol Pot had supported three years earlier to eliminate Lon Nol, intervened militarily in Cambodia and Pol Pot's reign of terror with a Vietnam-dependent government Communist Cambodian People's Party CPP ( Cambodian People's Party ) under Hun Sen ended. It was not until 1989 that the Vietnamese troops finally withdrew from Cambodia.

In 1993 Cambodia became a parliamentary monarchy and Sihanouk came back to the throne . The CPP remained an influential political party in the country and was involved in various governments, albeit not without conflict and unrest. Despite being illegal , the Khmer Rouge remained active underground and were particularly influential in the border area with Thailand . It was only after Pol Pot's death that the last Khmer Rouge fighters gave up at the end of 1998.

In the parliamentary elections in 2003, the CPP achieved a majority of 73 seats and, with Hun Sen, is the current prime minister in a coalition with two other parties that came about three months after the election through the mediation of the king .

Latin America and Cuba: Che Guevara in the international guerrilla war

In Cuba , the Cuban revolution came to power on January 1, 1959, when the guerrilla leader Fidel Castro came to power, who supported communism (in its Caribbean form) after the revolution and, shortly after the overthrow of the American-backed dictator Batista, the Cuban Communist Party newly founded, which Castro held until 2011. His brother Raúl Castro took over the party leadership.

The legendary revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara , who took part in the Cuban revolution alongside Castro , was also involved in an influential position in the Cuban government . Guevara was Cuba's industry minister and the second man in the state in the 1960s. He significantly shaped the planned economy in Cuba. Due, among other things, to increasing differences of opinion with Castro, but against Castro's wishes, Guevara left the country in the mid-1960s to devote himself to the worldwide revolutionary struggle, for which he formulated the theoretical foundations of modern guerrilla struggle . He took part in the revolutionary struggles in the African Congo and later led a guerrilla force in Bolivia , where he was denied the support of the Communist Party of Bolivia . Guevara was increasingly isolated with his small fighting force in the mountains. He was finally captured by regular army units after a skirmish and executed on site in the fall of 1967 under the supervision of CIA agent Félix Rodríguez .

The Cuban revolution and the Castro revolutionary movement also had a formative influence and model function for other revolutionary movements throughout Latin America , for example in Nicaragua , where in 1979 the Sandinista liberation movement FSLN under Daniel Ortega overthrew the dictator Somoza and against the resistance of those financed and trained by the USA Contras came to the government. After 11 years she was replaced by a bourgeois party in democratic elections in 1990.

The Popular Front government of Chile under the socialist Salvador Allende also implemented social and economic policy measures similar to those in Cuba in Chile after its democratic takeover in 1970. The US secret service and US corporations then supported General Augusto Pinochet in his military coup , which in 1973 violently overthrew the Allende government and established a military dictatorship for decades. In addition to thousands of leftists and intellectuals executed by the military, Allende himself was also killed in the coup.

Further examples of Cuba-influenced but independent left-wing revolutionary movements were the FMLN in El Salvador , which tried to overthrow the military dictatorship there in a bloody civil war between 1979 and 1991 ; or the movement of the Zapatistas in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas , which tried in the mid-1990s to enforce the rights of the mainly Indian rural population against the central government of Mexico .

North Korea: Division of Korea and Korean War

Border between North and South Korea in Panmunjon

After Japan's defeat in World War II, communists had taken power in North Korea with the help of the USSR in 1945. As a result of the war, Soviet and American troops occupied Korea and in 1948 divided the country into their respective spheres of interest along the 38th parallel . After the proclamation of the People's Democratic Republic of Korea in the north, the North Korean army tried to take the south of the country. From 1950 this led to the Korean War , which lasted until 1953 , the first significant proxy war of the Cold War.

The military deployment of UN troops ultimately prevented the violent unification of Korea under the rule of the Communist Party. Up to the present day there exist with North Korea and South Korea two different Korean states and state / social systems, which are separated from each other by a heavily guarded and secured border - similar to the former " Iron Curtain " through Europe - whereby the Communist Party in North Korea is still today remained in power as the sole ruling state party ( see below ).

States and proxy wars in the Tricont

Not only in the case of Korea, Vietnam and Cuba, the political-ideological conflict of the Cold War between the great powers often turned into a civil war-like state, in which communist states ( USSR , People's Republic of China ) were the communist side and the USA the often right-wing dictatorial elite supported. For example, the military coup in Chile under Augusto Pinochet against the freely elected socialists of the Popular Unity Salvador Allende in 1973, or in supporting the right-wing Contras against in the 1979 revolution in Nicaragua successful leftist Sandinistas under Daniel Ortega .

Other examples include successful and unsuccessful attempts to overthrow one side or the other, civil wars and uprisings in, for example, the Congo , Angola , Mozambique , Ethiopia , Madagascar , El Salvador , Colombia , Indonesia , the Philippines , Afghanistan , Myanmar ( Burma ) and others States. In some of these countries communist parties or movements were temporarily in power; occasionally some of them rule under changed conditions to the present day (Myanmar, Angola, Mozambique).

Developments in the Near and Middle East and North Africa to the present day

This chapter deals with developments and “varieties” of communist-oriented parties in the Arab-Islamic world and other states with a Muslim culture up to the present day.

In Arab or, above all, Islamic states of the Near and Middle East and North Africa , communist parties usually did not play a significant role over a longer period of time, provided that they - in the respective states (such as in more secularized countries such as Egypt , Lebanon , Syria ) - at least temporarily - admitted parties. Large parts of the secular pan-Arab movement were also influenced by communism .

  • Algeria : The communist-influenced National Liberation Front of Algeria ( Front de Liberation Nationale , FLN) gained greater importance in the Algerian war from 1954 to 1962 against the colonial power France. This guerrilla war led to independence and sole government of the FLN in a socialist-oriented people 's republic until 1963 . The FLN supported the also communist-oriented underground organization POLISARIO in the neighboring state of Morocco and the Western Sahara claimed by Morocco . The POLISARIO sought there recognition of the independence of Western Sahara. Because of this support / interference by the FLN, the relationship between Morocco and Algeria was very tense for a long time. At the end of the 1980s, Algeria's constitution was liberalized and free elections were permitted, in which the IslamistIslamic Salvation Party ” (FIS) was victorious. In order to maintain the government of the FLN, there was a military coup and the FIS was banned. At present Algeria is a presidential republic in which the FLN has a majority of the seats and continues to rule. However, like many other secular Arab states, the country is repeatedly marked by unrest by Islamist groups.
  • Lebanon : The Lebanese Communist Party celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2004. On this occasion, an international conference with 35 communist parties from 30 countries took place in Tripoli, Lebanon from November 19 to 21, 2004. The theme was "International Initiatives on the Middle East", as can be seen in the final document. The current Secretary General of the Lebanese Communist Party is Khaled Hadadah . Despite 11.5% of the vote, the CP did not receive a parliamentary mandate, as the majority vote is used in Lebanon .
  • Libya : The pan-Arab revolutionary movement under Muammar al-Gaddafi , who came to power in Libya in 1969 through a military coup against the kingdom , which had been independent of Italy since 1951 , was also guided by communist ideas and at least temporarily supported by the USSR . In addition to the nationalization of foreign oil companies , banks and insurance companies , he introduced important social reforms. Gaddafi's revolutionary movement ruled the North African country until 2011 and after admitting various terrorist acts and attacks in Western Europe and trying to make amends . During the civil war in Libya , various people began to protest against Gaddafi's dictatorship. However, the uprising was bloodily suppressed. With the help of NATO , the rebels were finally able to overthrow Gaddafi.
  • Palestinian Autonomous Territories , PLO : The Palestine Liberation Organization PLO under Yasser Arafat , which has set itself the goal of establishing an independent Palestinian state in Palestine - initially with the elimination of, now alongside Israel - was also influenced by communism . The disputes on this question, which were tenacious on both sides and in several wars with the involvement of other neighboring states, drag on to the present, whereby the influence of Arafat, who had become more moderate until his death on November 11, 2004, in favor of radical and militant Islamist groups such as Hamas and others had declined.

Both Gaddafi and the PLO supported terrorist methods and globally active groups for a long time during the Cold War to achieve their goals and saw themselves as “part of an international liberation movement against imperialism ” - from their point of view especially against that of the USA and Israel. They also gave members of left-wing terrorist groups from Western Europe (e.g. Red Brigades from Italy, Red Army Faction from West Germany) shelter and other support.

  • Baath Party : The “Socialist Party of the Arab Revival”, founded in Damascus in Syria in 1943 , which appeared in various Arab countries, originally also represented elements of communism that it sought to combine with the Arab-Islamic traditions in the region . At the same time, however, she also fought existing communist parties in the countries in which she appeared. The Ba'ath Party, which sought secularization in the respective countries and advocated a federation of Arab states, also found support for a long time from the CPSU of the USSR during the Cold War. However, the substantive influence of communism on the Ba'ath Party decreased significantly in favor of the power-political interests of its leaders. The Ba'ath Party is extremely controversial, especially among communists, especially in the West, and is often compared with fascist parties. In her real power-political development, wherever she was given governmental power, she took action, at least domestically, in some cases rigorously against critics from the ranks of the Communists, whom she often had to arrest and murder. This party gained more significant influence and eventually government power in Syria and Iraq. However, it took very different, often mutually antagonistic developments in the two countries. In Syria, socialism was completely abolished in the constitutional referendum in Syria in 2012 .
    • Iraq : Before the Ba'ath Party's influence in Iraq grew, the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP), founded in 1934, played a crucial role in the overthrow of the monarchy in 1958 and the early years of the Iraqi Republic. The Ba'ath Party was in power in Iraq from 1968 to 2003 and eliminated the communists. After President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr handed him the leadership of the state and the party in 1979, Saddam Hussein set up a cruel dictatorship tailored to his person after eliminating political rivals . He was supported by the USA from 1979 , especially in the First Gulf War against the Islamist neighboring state of Iran . At the latest after the occupation of Kuwait , which led the USA to the 2nd Gulf War against Iraq in 1991 , Hussein made the US government an enemy . As a result of the world-wide controversial Third Gulf War, Hussein was finally ousted and captured in 2003/2004, sentenced to death by an Iraqi court in 2006 and executed in December of the same year.
    • Syria : The Ba'ath Party has ruled Syria in a moderate form compared to Hussein since 1970, after it came to power under Hafiz al-Assad after violent clashes with / against the Syrian CP , which also existed there at the time. Since the death of Hafiz al-Assad, his son Bashar al-Assad , who is considered a comparatively liberal son, has been in government in Syria since 2000.
  • South Yemen , Yemen : From 1967 to 1990, South Yemen as the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen was a communist-oriented state under the Marxist-oriented Yemeni Socialist Party . In the course of the 1980s there was unrest and a civil war in South Yemen, in which the Socialist Party was initially able to hold out. In the course of the collapse of the communist Eastern bloc , it was reunified with North Yemen in 1990 . In the united Republic of Yemen, moderate reform parties prevailed in elections.
  • Afghanistan : In 1978 the communist-oriented Democratic People's Party of Afghanistan (DVPA) gained power in the country on the Hindu Kush , which had been a republic since 1973 . The resistance of several groups of the mujahideen , which was supported by the USA and some Islamic states, led to the civil war and, in 1979, the invasion of Afghanistan by Soviet troops, who were asked for assistance by the Afghan ruling party. After the withdrawal of the Red Army in 1989, the communists under Mohammed Najibullah could not hold out much longer. The civil war struggles continued and from 1995 a fundamental Islamist regime emerged under the Taliban , which was not overthrown by the USA and its allies until the Afghanistan war in 2001 in the course of the " war on terrorism " declared by George W. Bush . The officially given priority of eliminating the internationally operating terrorist organization Al-Qaida under Osama bin Laden could not be achieved.
Israel, to the present

In Israel, the Mapam (United Workers' Party) was originally a Marxist- Zionist party that was founded in 1948, the year the State of Israel was proclaimed . It emerged from the left-wing socialist youth organization HaSchomer HaTzair ( The Young Guardian ), founded in Vienna in 1916 . This organization was already since 1920 in the then British Mandate of Palestine active, where they decisive role in building the grassroots kibbutz had movement and especially into the 1950s many agricultural collectives in self-government , the kibbutzim had founded, which also communist ideals implemented.

As part of the anti-Zionist Cominform policy under Stalin's rule, leading Jewish politicians of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia were brought to justice in the Slansky trial in Prague . The Mapam leader Mordechai Oren and his cousin Shimon Ornstein appeared as witnesses for the prosecution and were sentenced to life imprisonment in a subsequent trial, but were released in 1954. In their memoirs, they explain in detail how they were forced to make false confessions. After this confrontation with Stalinism, the Mapam turned away from its radical left positions during the 1950s and became a left-wing social democratic party. However, some of the party's leadership cadre did not go along with the change of course and switched to an independent Communist Party of Israel , which, however, only played a marginal role in Israeli politics.

In 1969, the Mapam participated together with the Labor Party (Avoda) in the left-wing Maarach alliance ( unification ). In 1992 she left this alliance in protest against Shimon Peres ' decision to form a coalition with the right-wing Likud party.

With other left-wing and left-liberal Israeli movements, the Mapam then founded the electoral coalition Meretz , in which the party was finally absorbed when Meretz was transformed into an independent left-wing party in 1996. Meretz was the first Zionist party in Israel to advocate the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

As an electoral alliance , Meretz was involved in coalition governments led by the Labor Party from 1992 to 1996 and as a party from 1998 to early 2001. In 2004 Meretz united with the Shahar ( Dawn ) party, a left-wing split from the Labor Party led by the pacifist politician Jossi Beilin , to form a new left-wing social democratic party under the name Meretz-Jachad ( Social Democratic Israel ).

Among the anti-Zionist parties, the list connection Chadasch ( Democratic Front for Peace and Equal Rights ) is currently considered to be a CP represented in the Knesset , the Israeli parliament , whose voter potential is mainly made up of Arab workers and only a minority of Jewish communists. For the 2015 Knesset election, it joined forces with the United Arab List, Balad and Ta'al to form the United List. The electoral alliance won a total of thirteen parliamentary seats.

After the Cold War: Situation since 1989 / early 1990s

USSR, Russian Federation and Eastern Europe

With his concept of perestroika (= economic reorientation with market economy opening) and glasnost (= transparency and democratization ), Mikhail Gorbachev wanted to reform the policy of the CPSU in the USSR domestically and abroad in order to prevent the isolation of communism and the Soviet Union. In terms of foreign policy, this policy of opening up was welcomed by the West, while Gorbachev encountered resistance from the nomenklatura in domestic policy .

In 1990 Gorbachev lifted the party's monopoly on power, which was enshrined in the Soviet constitution of 1977. In an effort to reform the CPSU itself, there was an Orthodox-Communist coup attempt against Gorbachev in August 1991 . After its failure due to the resistance of Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Moscow population, the CPSU was banned across the Union by the Supreme Soviet .

The turbulent events in the wake of the popular uprisings against the supremacy of the Communist Party in all Eastern European countries up to the end of the 1980s, beginning in Poland with the establishment of the independent Solidarność trade union and ending with the fall of the Berlin Wall in the GDR, as well as the fall and execution of the dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu in Romania, ultimately led to the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and finally to the dissolution of the USSR on December 12, 1991 in the CIS = Commonwealth of Independent States , initially under the umbrella of Russia. Gorbachev resigned as President of the USSR. As President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin then de facto succeeded Gorbachev in Russia.

In the course of these events, there was also a change in the communist parties in Eastern Europe in the following years.

After the ban on the CPSU, the Russian Orthodox Communists, chaired by Gennady Zyuganov, founded the Communist Party of the Russian Federation ( KPRF ). Although they formed the largest parliamentary group in the new Duma , the Russian parliament , they remained in the minority in relation to the other, now admitted parties, and were no longer involved in a government in Russia. The same thing happened to the Kyrgyz Communist Party .

The right-wing extremist National Bolshevik Party of Russia can be seen as a political branch or split .

Many former communist parties in the Eastern Bloc transformed into parties adopting a new ideology, including the New Azerbaijan Party and the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan . Communist parties that more or less follow traditional communist ideology, such as the Communist Party of Kazakhstan and the Azerbaijani Communist Party, also emerged as newly founded or split-offs .

In Belarus , in the "Republic of Belarus" proclaimed in 1991, the Supreme Soviet continued to be dominated by communist forces and structures that blocked reforms under the first state president Stanislau Shushkevich , even after the country became independent from the USSR . The new constitution , enacted in 1994, introduced a presidential system that provides for the personal union of heads of government and heads of state. In the elections that followed, the old communist Aljaksandr Lukashenka won . Lukashenka, who continues to maintain very close diplomatic relations with Russia, rules with almost dictatorial powers partly against the parliament, and also against his own former party, the Communist Party of Belarus (KPB), which has no majority in the Belarusian parliament. According to international observers, election results in favor of Lukashenko are considered manipulated or falsified. OSCE representatives accused Lukashenko of electoral fraud .

In Ukraine , the Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU) , which emerged from the CPSU, initially remained the strongest political force in parliament in the first years of independence . Until 2004 it always achieved at least 20% in parliamentary and presidential elections. The 2004 presidential election marked a significant change. In the elections it only achieved 5% of the vote and in the following parliamentary elections in 2006 only 3.7% and in 2007 5.4%. What was once the strongest force in Ukraine's parliament is now one of the smaller parties. It is particularly popular in the Russian-speaking parts of the Ukraine, while it is almost insignificant in western Ukraine. The party has not been represented in parliament since 2014.

In the former Soviet Republic of Moldova , which was marked in the 1990s by unrest and separatist efforts by the Romanian and other national minorities in the country, the Communist Party of the Republic of Moldova (KPM) won an absolute majority in parliament in the elections in February 2001 , and with its chairman Vladimir Voronin provided the head of state . Moldova is the only country that formerly belonged to the USSR ( independent since 1991 as a presidential republic ) in which a communist party took over government responsibility again through elections.

In the former East Central European satellite states of the Soviet Union, the communist parties were either transformed into social democratic parties or replaced by them. In this regard, the Czech Republic is a special case, as the KSČM, an unreformed communist party that is still represented in parliament with election results between 10 and 18%, and the ČSSD, a social democratic party founded after the fall of the Wall, coexist. Since the KSČM is regarded as incapable of forming a coalition, this contributes to the instability of the Czech political system.


After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 , the SED had to give up its dominant status in the GDR . During the turnaround and peaceful revolution in the GDR and before German reunification , the SED was renamed the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) after a programmatic change . The PDS has been represented in the German Bundestag as a party to the left of the SPD since 1990 , albeit with only two direct mandates from 2002 to 2005. Its main clientele was in the eastern federal states , where it was also represented in state governments ( Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania , Berlin ), whereas in the western federal states it was only of marginal importance for most of the time.

This began to change after the PDS (renamed Linkspartei.PDS) in June 2005 with the left SPD spin-off WASG (election alternative for work and social justice) to form the electoral alliance Die Linkspartei. had merged. In the 2005 Bundestag elections , this electoral alliance was elected nationwide with 8.7% of the votes or 54 seats in the 16th German Bundestag, where, now well above the five percent hurdle, it represents a resurgent parliamentary force to the left of the SPD. On June 16, 2007, following the majority will of the members of the Left Party and WASG, the two organizations merged, making Die Linke the third largest party political formation in Germany with 70,000 members.

There are also the DKP and various splinter parties such. B. the MLPD and other so-called K-groups (with either Maoist or Trotskyist orientation, and other party-like organizations), which, however, are not represented in parliament at the state or federal level in Germany.

In the rest of Europe and in many countries around the world, too, a reorientation took place within communist parties.

Italy, up to the present

In Italy, the Communist Party of Italy PCI abandoned its communist orientation at the 1990 party congress and renamed itself Partito Democratico della Sinistra (PDS; German: Democratic Party of the Left ) The remaining supporters of communism from the old party founded the new Italian CP Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (PDRC) and Partito dei Comunisti Italiani . A few others joined other, smaller CPs.

From 1998 to 2000, the Italian PDS provided Massimo D'Alema, the first prime minister in a western European state who came from a (former) communist party.

Yugoslavia and successor states

In Yugoslavia, the Communist Party renounced its constitutional monopoly of power in 1990. After the independence of the republics of Slovenia , Macedonia , Croatia , Bosnia and Herzegovina and the resulting civil wars in Croatia and Bosnia until 1995, the - now renamed - CP of Yugoslavia lost more and more power until the last communist president, Slobodan Milošević, was overthrown after the Kosovo war in 1999 and in the rest of Yugoslavia ( Serbia and Montenegro ) a pluralistic democracy, albeit crisis-ridden, emerged.

Developments in the States after the Cold War

Without the pioneering role of the CPSU, many independent forms of communism have developed in other countries as well, which, however, are of decreasing political importance overall.

As a result of the worldwide social and economic changes to the disadvantage of the poorer sections of the population in the course of economic globalization and the policy of so-called " neoliberalism ", a modern form of international capitalism , which many consider to be more and more aggressive , one came into being from the mid-1990s Renaissance of communist and left-wing socialist ideas within the rapidly growing grassroots movement of globalization critics . The economic situation in many of the Trikont states, some of which were heavily indebted , had led to increased political pressure from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the corresponding states. In some countries, as a result of the rampant inflation and the extremely high cost of living, there were increased hunger riots , some of which were civil war-like conditions, for example in Argentina , Venezuela and other countries.

The corresponding situation has meanwhile also led to democratically legitimized takeover of government by left-wing socialist and communist-influenced forces in some states.

States of the present ruled by communist parties or liberation movements

People's Republic of China

Xi Jinping

In the People's Republic of China , at the latest since the 16th Party Congress under the then General Secretary and President Jiang Zemin , who is still considered a strong man in the background , the Communist Party of China has adapted its ideology to the conditions of globalization to the extent that market-economy elements are permitted, but at the same time political power remains completely in the hands of the party. One wanted to finally part with "vulgar Marxism", it said.

With the theory of " triple representation " in the party presented by Jiang Zemin , the CCP has also opened the Chinese market for private entrepreneurs on the domestic market , thus also meeting the needs of the strengthened Chinese middle class . For the USA and the European Union , China has been an important economic sales market since its economic opening. Xi Jinping has been the party's general secretary since November 2012 . With around 78 million members, the Chinese Communist Party is the largest CP in the world and the second largest political party in the world after the Indian BJP .


Since the revolution of 1959, Cuba has been ruled by the Partido Comunista de Cuba, abbreviated PCC, which is the only legal party in the country. The Communist Party of Cuba is not a mass party, but on the contrary sees itself as a revolutionary avant-garde on the way to communism, so that it only accepts members with a particularly impeccable curriculum vitae and a revolutionary conscience. At present, the highest organs of the PCC at national level are the party congress, the Central Committee (ZK) and its Politburo. On the VI. Party Congress was Raul Castro as First Secretary and Jose Ramon Machado Ventura was elected Second Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba. Raúl Castro succeeded his older brother Fidel Castro , who had led the party for 49 years. Cuba's policy is characterized by maintaining the planned economy . Since the US economic blockade, at the latest since the end of support from the USSR, the country in the Caribbean has suffered from increasing economic problems and increasing criticism of the Castro government in its own country. Nevertheless, until his death on November 25, 2016, Castro continued to enjoy relatively strong support among the Cuban population.

North Korea

North Korea has been following a totalitarian Stalinist or neo-Stalinist policy with a personality cult around the respective head of state and his predecessors since 1948 . The leading role of the ruling Labor Party of Korea (PdAK) in the state is set out in Section I, Article 11 of the country's Constitution. In 1974, during the term of office of Kim Il-sung, the father of Kim Jong-il, the classic Marxism-Leninism was replaced in the constitution by the so-called Chuch'e ideology , which is supposed to represent a Marxism-Leninism adapted to North Korean conditions , but clearly contradicts this in some points. During Kim Jong-il's tenure as head of state (1997-2011), elements from militarism ( Sŏn'gun politics ) were also taken up. There are also officially two other small bloc parties, but they have no influence on politics and form a coalition with the PdAK in the Democratic Front for the reunification of the fatherland .

In 2011, Kim Jong-un became first secretary of the Labor Party of Korea (PdAK), succeeding his father (Kim Jong-il), the "eternal general secretary" and his grandfather (Kim Il-sung), the "eternal president". The first party congress of the PdAK since 1980 took place from 6 to 10 May 2016. On this, Kim Jong-un was appointed party chairman.


The Communist Party of Vietnam is the only legal party in the country. Together with other organizations, she leads the country in the Front de la Patrie du Viêt Nam . In addition to Marxism-Leninism, the party's ideological basis is the political thinking of party founder Hồ Chí Minh . The current party chairman has been Nguyễn Phú Trọng since 2011 . In Vietnam , a similar, but independent, turning point as in China took place from 1986, the so-called Doi Moi . There was some economic liberalization, but political liberalization or democracy with a multiparty system did not materialize. Since then, civil rights have even been restricted further. The Vietnamese Communist Party remains in full power.


The Marxist-Leninist Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LRVP) has been in power in Laos since the bloodless revolution of 1975 by the Pathet Lao - after the Vietnam War . It governs the country together with dependent mass organizations in the Front lao pour la Construction nationale . The former Pathet Lao fighter Choummaly Sayasone has been the general secretary since 2006 . Anti-communist rebels in the north of the country are supported by the USA, with money from opium transactions also playing a role in the power struggle. In Laos, too, there was no real turnaround due to the high level of corruption. In 1991 only the country's first constitution and a parliament in which only the LRVP is represented were introduced.


In Zimbabwe , the former liberation movement ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front) ruled since independence in 1980 under the long-term dictator Robert Mugabe , who resigned in November 2017. The structures of the ZANU-PF are based on communist and socialist models from the former Eastern Bloc. The party has a politburo . In terms of content, it has long fluctuated between the pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese wings. In the present the party has an increasingly African nationalist character.


In Angola since the country's independence from Portugal in 1975 ruled the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA). In the guerrilla war against the colonial power Portugal 1961–1974, the MPLA was supported by Cuba and the USSR. The MPLA Angola ruled in a one-party system until 1990, but was able to maintain its dominant position of power even after the introduction of the multi-party system. José Eduardo dos Santos has been chairman of the party and also president since 1979 .


In Mozambique since the country's independence from Portugal in 1975, the ruling FRELIMO (FRELIMO). The party maintained close relations with the GDR and Bulgaria during the People's Republic of Mozambique , but had a tense relationship with the Soviet Union, as Mozambique refused to set up a Soviet military base. Although the party officially distanced itself from Marxism on June 30, 1989, introduced a multi-party system and renamed the People's Republic of Mozambique the Republic of Mozambique, it is still the dominant party in the country and a member of the Socialist International .


The former liberation movement SWAPO (South-West Africa People's Organization), founded in 1960, has ruled Namibia since independence in 1990 . With its military arm, the People's Liberation Army of Namibia, SWAPO led the armed struggle first from Zambia and later from Angola against the occupying power of South Africa, the so-called Namibian Liberation Struggle. Politically and ideologically, the SWAPO can be classified as African-nationalist with a Marxist influence. The party's highest governing bodies are the Central Committee and the Politburo.

South Africa

The African National Congress has ruled in South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994 . The party, which was founded as a resistance movement in 1912, was illegal in South Africa until 1990, but was able to exert a great deal of influence on events in South Africa. The military wing of the ANC was integrated into the newly established South African National Defense Force (SANDF) after the election . The ANC has largely shed its Marxist roots and is a member of the Socialist International.


In Eritrea since 1994 there is the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PDFJ). It is the only approved political organization in Eritrea and emerged from the Eritrean People's Liberation Front . According to its own statement, it has a Marxist orientation, corresponds more to African socialism according to European ideas and even regards itself as open to all nationalist Eritreans regardless of class or other political convictions. The chairman is President Isaias Afewerki. The party regards itself as a broad political movement that should encompass all political currents within Eritrea that it tolerates. It thus has the character of a unitary party, and Eritrea is accordingly viewed as a state with a one-party system.


In Algeria , the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN), which was founded in 1954, has ruled since independence in 1962 . A socialist one-party system prevailed until 1991, but even after that the FLN was able to defend its dominant position with the help of the military. The FLN has been an associated member of the Socialist International since 2013.


In Venezuela , the Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV), the largest left-wing party in South America with around 7 million members, is chaired by Nicolás Maduro . The party was founded in 2007 as an amalgamation of several left-wing parties by long-time President Hugo Chavez . Chavez proclaimed the Bolivarian Revolution , based on Cuba , which was to lead the country into "socialism of the 21st century". Key industries were nationalized and a new constitution was passed that forbids the privatization of the oil industry and the social security systems and decrees free popular education and measures to reactivate large unused landed property, while at the same time respecting private property, including private property in the means of production. Venezuela is officially called the "Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela".


In Bolivia , the MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo) party has been ruling since 2005, under the leadership of President Evo Morales . Under Morales, Bolivia was renamed the Plurinational State of Bolivia (Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia) and a socialist constitution was introduced. The full name of the party, founded in 1997, is "Movimiento al Socialismo - Instrumento Político por la Soberanía de los Pueblos" (MAS-IPSP), "Movement towards Socialism - Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples". The MAS is not a socialist or social democratic party with European characteristics, but represents an indigenous, popular and also nationalist socialism and is an opponent of so-called “western” culture.

See also


  • Uwe Backes , Patrick Moreau (eds.): Communist and Post-Communist Parties in Europe (= writings of the Hannah Arendt Institute for Research on Totalitarianism . Vol. 36). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2008, ISBN 978-3-525-36912-8 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Manfred Hildermeier : The Russian Revolution 1905–1921 , Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1989, p. 51.
  2. Sōmushō: Governors / Mayors and MPs in the regional authorities by party (PDF; 2.5 MB), p. 4.
  3. Will Grant: CIA man recounts Che Guevara's death , BBC News , October 8, 2007.
  4. ^ Against the "big plan" , our zeit - newspaper of the DKP, December 24, 2004
  5. Cf. Hudalla, Anneke: Foreign Policy in Times of Transformation. The European Policy of the Czech Republic 1993–2000, Münster 2003, p. 61.