A politburo (/ˈpɒlɪtbjʊər/) or political bureau is the executive committee for communist parties.[1] It is present in most former and existing communist states.

The Soviet Politburo passes a resolution to execute 346 "enemies of the CPSU and the Soviet Government" who led "counter-revolutionary, pro-trotskyist, plotting and spying activities", signed by secretary Stalin, 17 January 1940


The term "politburo" in English comes from the Russian Politbyuro (Политбюро), itself a contraction of Politicheskoye byuro (Политическое бюро, "Political Bureau"). The Spanish term Politburó is directly loaned from Russian, as is the German Politbüro. Chinese uses a calque (Chinese: 政治局; pinyin: Zhèngzhìjú), from which the Vietnamese (Bộ Chính trị "部政治"), and Korean (정치국, 政治局 Jeongchiguk) terms derive.


The first politburo was created in Russia by the Bolshevik Party in 1917 during the Russian Revolution that occurred during that year.[2][3] The first Politburo had seven members: Vladimir Lenin, Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, Leon Trotsky, Joseph Stalin, Grigori Sokolnikov, and Andrei Bubnov.[4]

During the 20th century, politburos were established in most Communist states. They included the politburos of the USSR, East Germany, Afghanistan, and Czechoslovakia. Several countries still have a politburo system in operation: China, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam, and Cuba.[5]

Marxist–Leninist statesEdit

In Marxist–Leninist states, the communist party claims to be the vanguard of the people, therefore the legitimate body to lead the state. The party selects officials to serve in its politburo, which decides party policy. As a one-party state, party policy invariably becomes national policy.

Each Party Congress elects a Central Committee which, in turn, elects the members of the politburo, secretariat, and a general secretary. This process is termed democratic centralism. In theory, the politburo is answerable to the Central Committee, however in practice all the authority lies with the politburo.

Trotskyist partiesEdit

In Trotskyist parties, the Politburo is a bureau of the Central Committee tasked with making day-to-day political decisions, which must later be ratified by the Central Committee. Its members are chosen by the Central Committee, who appoints it. The post of General Secretary carries far less weight in this model. See, for example, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Received 2012-02-02". Merriam-webster.com. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  2. ^ "USSR: Communist Party: Politburo". Archontology.org. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  3. ^ "Politburo (Soviet political body) – Encyclopædia Britannica". Britannica.com. 24 April 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  4. ^ Dmitri Volkogonov, Lenin. A New Biography, translated and edited by Harold Shukman (New York: The Free Press, 1994), p. 185.
  5. ^ "A List of Current Communist Countries". Geography.about.com. 29 May 2014. Retrieved 16 June 2014.

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