People's Republic (also People's Democracy ) is or was the self-designation of many real socialist political systems that emerged after the end of the Second World War . The designation serves to differentiate between “western” democracies on the one hand and council democratic systems on the other. Despite their name, they usually quickly developed into dictatorships of various types or were planned as such from the outset.
The term was coined during the Cold War with the intention of delimiting the political systems under the influence of the Soviet Union (see: Eastern Bloc ) from the bourgeois democracies of the West . He should name systems that deviated from revolutionary concepts and the dictatorship of the proletariat developed from capitalism to socialism . In this way, elements of bourgeois democracy were to be formally preserved in these states, while at the same time they could be integrated into the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union and its alliance system.
A distinction is made between the naming
- People's Republic in the narrower sense: the constitutional self-designation of states (in the second half of the 20th century , for example the People's Republic of Benin , Bulgaria , Angola , Hungary , Mozambique , Poland , China or the People's Republic of the Congo ), sometimes without actually belonging to the socialist Warehouses (for example Bangladesh , Algeria ). "People's democracy" was initially also called the system of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), from 1968 it was simply called the "socialist state".
- People's Democratic Republic or Democratic People's Republic : North Korea as the People's Democratic Republic of Korea or Ethiopia as the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
- People's Republic in the broader sense (also People's Democracy): the slang term for states in this group regardless of their self-designation - in the second half of the 20th century, for example, Albania , Yugoslavia , Romania .
The states that were formerly part of the Eastern bloc reformed both their names and their form of rule in the course of the 1990s. Currently only China , North Korea , Algeria , Bangladesh and Laos carry the official designation of the People's Republic (according to 1.), whereby Bangladesh cannot be called a People's Republic politically.
Differentiation from the dictatorship of the proletariat
The term dictatorship of the proletariat comes from the works of Karl Marx . It describes a political system that makes the transition from capitalism to socialism . If the bourgeois-democratic state was based on the class rule of the bourgeoisie , the dictatorship of the proletariat is based on the rule of the working class . The dictatorship of the proletariat is intended to secure the achievements of the preceding proletarian revolution and to completely eliminate the class differences that still exist, and thus class society, and carries out this process under pronounced democratic control.
Marx and Friedrich Engels never used the terms “people's democracy” and “people's republic” . Their meaning derives from the history of terms in the 20th century. The dictatorship of the proletariat presupposes a previous proletarian revolution , while people's democracy gets by without this step. Both terms, however, designate a stage that is intended to describe the transition from capitalism to socialism. The two forms also have in common that the class struggle has not been abolished in them.
Critics often refer to the term simply as a euphemism for dictatorships under the label of socialism or communism . Luciano Canfora argued that the communist rulers in the people's democracies gained power by means of a consensus of the voters, which was explained by the situation after the Second World War. The mistake was the assumption that this situational consensus would be valid for an indefinite period of time, so that regular verification of legitimation (e.g. through elections) would be superfluous. Instead, there was a belief that power could be consolidated through social achievements.
- Rainer-Olaf Schultze: Article People's Democracy . In: Dieter Nohlen (Ed.): Lexikon der Politik , Vol. 7, p. 695.
- See Christian Halbrock, Evangelical Pastor of the Berlin-Brandenburg Church 1945–1961. Official autonomy in the guardian state? , Lukas Verlag, Berlin 2004, p. 22, note 37 . On the other hand, see Dieter Felbick, Keywords of the Postwar Period 1945–1949 , de Gruyter, Berlin 2003, p. 190 .
- MEW 7, p. 89 f .; MEW 19, p. 28.
- Luciano Canfora: A Brief History of Democracy , Cologne 2006, p. 246.