Inner-party  democracy,  collective leadership, criticism & self-criticism


 The Rise and Development of Inner-Party Democracy

Democracy and centralism, collective leadership, criticism and self-criticism have always been basic principles of party organization, life and activity.  Formulated and scientifically grounded by freedom fighters and democrats and proved many times by the experience of the progressive political parties, they continue to serve as a reliable ideological, theoretical, political and organizational weapon in the hands of the party  before and after taking over power.

The development of inner-party democracy is a major condition for enhancing the role and increasing the influence of party organs.  Inner-party democracy is the basis and the guarantee for bringing collective creative work forward, for taking of most correct decisions, the guarantee for wagging a resolute struggle against conservatism, arbitrary actions, the undermining of moral norms for the consolidation of the party’s contacts with the masses and for the confidence of the masses in the party.

The ever-growing many-sided importance of inner-party democracy and the enrichment of its content and forms require regular armament and re-armament of the party members and the cadres with the theory of inner-party democracy and the experience accumulated. More so as its essence and role are at the centre of the ideological and political attacks of the contemporary opponents of democracy and social progress.


Essence, Peculiarities and

 Importance of Inner-Party


The essence of inner-party democracy as an immanent component of the life and activity of the political party of the suppressed and colonised people was revealed by the freedom fighters, progressive intellectuals and leaders of the colonial and semi-colonial people.  In the basic documents of political organisations and liberation movements they elaborated the principles of democratic centralism as well as inner-party democracy, and applied them in the structure and activity of the political organisations.

The leaders of the oppressed and colonised people, democrats and progressive intellectuals such as Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, Mr. Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe, Mr. Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula, Mr Arthur Wina, Mr Grey Zulu, Mr Sikota Wina, Dr. Julius Nyerere, Mr. Nelson Mandela, Mr. Robert Mugabe, Dr. Joshua Nkomo, Dr. Sam Nujoma to name but a few did not only contribute to the theoretical clarification and realisation of the principles of democratic centralism but also elaborated a number of ideas revealing the qualitative characteristics of inner-party democracy as a party and political phenomenon.

The characteristics of the essence and structure of inner-party democracy are expressed by the idea that the pro-poor peoples’ party is organised on democratic lines. This means that all the affairs of the party are conducted, either directly or through representatives, by all the members of the party, all of whom without exception have equal rights.   Above all party officials, all leading bodies and all institutions of the party are subject to an election, are responsible to their constituents, and are subject to recall. On the basis and in the spirit of these positions serving as methodological instruction, the following major  characteristic  features  and  peculiarities  of  inner-party  democracy  could  be enumerated as follows:

First, inner-party democracy expresses the deep democratic nature of the party and of inner-party relations, which arise and are implemented in the process of building the party as an organisation as well as the functioning of the party, developing as a living political organism and leading force of social progress.  These are relations among the party members, the leading bodies of the party and the party institutions, which are realised in the process of formation of leading bodies, elaboration, adoption and implementation of the party policy.

Second, the nucleus of inner-party democracy are the relations in connection with the operation of “power” within the party, the organisation and the leadership of the party’s activity.  By its nature party democracy is power of the party masses, participation of all party members directly or through representatives in the leadership activities, in the elaboration of the party policy, in the formation of party bodies or organs.

Third,  party democracy is organically and dialectically connected with the centralist principle in building the party as well as in the leadership of its activities.   The dialectical connection between democracy and discipline in the party is revealed and substantiated in the following:  unity of action, freedom of discussion and criticism.  Only such discipline is worthy of the democratic party.

Complete democracy, freedom of opinion and of criticism in the discussion of all problems, conscious iron discipline and unity of action after a decision has been adopted by a majority, strict fulfilment of the decisions of the superior elected organs – such is the inviolable law of party life, compulsory for all the party members, wherever they work and whatever post they hold. Democratism in the life and activity of the party is imaginary and impossible without unity of will and action, without discipline, i.e. without centralism.  The will of the majority, the activity of the party members, their equal rights as manifestations of democracy are a mere form unless there is high level of organisation, strict discipline, subordination of the personal actions to the will of the majority, i.e. there must be centralism.

In the dialectical connection and interaction of democracy and centralism the dialectics of freedom and necessity in the actions of the party members is manifested. Freedom becomes an expression of necessity, rights turn into a means of conscious fulfilment of party duties.  Democracy operates as a basis and condition for ideological and organisational unity, for uniform discipline. Centralism is simultaneously a product of democracy and a means for its realisation.  The dialectical connection and interaction between democracy and centralism is an important regularity of the party activity and development.  The extension and intensification of party democracy is accompanied by consolidation and raising of party discipline and vice versa.

The dialectical connection between democracy and centralism, which is manifested in the principle of democratic centralism and forms its essence, occupies a central position in the ideological struggle of everyday life between the forces of social progress and ambassadors of doom.

True democracy is theoretically and practically impossible unless determined and guaranteed by the principle of democratic centralism.  This implies that democracy without discipline, without centralism leads the party to disintegration and political oblivion.

Opposition groups in the party weaken the party, cause ideological and organisational splits and pose a challenge to the party authority as a leading force in society.

Fourth, inner-party democracy is organically inherent to the party of united members and its people.   Inner-party democracy is an objective necessity, a requirement for the party activity and development. Therefore, it is an objective and regular phenomenon, inherent in the party.

Party democracy is determined first and foremost by the true democratic nature of the interests and the goals of the people, by the democratic nature of the relations among the people.

As already mentioned, inner-party democracy ensues from the nature of the party, which expresses the fundamental interests of all the people. The purpose of existence of the party is to meet the material and spiritual needs of the people in society. The purpose of existence of government is to meet the material and spiritual needs of the people in society.

The necessity of democracy in the life of the party and of leadership of its activities are determined by the leading role played by the party in society. The party cannot play the leading role successfully unless it organises its activities on the basis of democratic principles.  The necessity of democratic organisation and leadership of the party are also connected with its role of a fundamental bearer and guarantor of democracy. Fifth, being a reflection of the democratic nature of the relations of the conscious and organised people, being an embodiment of ideological and organisational unity, inner-party democracy is a supreme type of democracy, the complete political democracy of the new generation. It is the model for democracy within the system of society and its sub-system and plays the leading role.

Sixth, inner-party democracy is manifested as activity of the party members and party bodies, as a purposeful inner-party activity, which secures a democratic leadership of the functions of the party organism. Through this activity and in it are maintained the inner- party organisational connections and relations, which form the content of inner-party democracy.

Seventh, inner-party democracy is not a formal proclamation of certain rights and duties of the party members. Inner-party democracy guarantees these rights and duties through a system of principles, norms, methods and forms, stipulated by the party manifesto, the party constitution and other basic party documents. They introduce a way of inner-party life, which meets the requirements of democracy.

Eighth, inner-party democracy is a dynamic phenomenon, not a static one. It develops and enriches its content and scope through the interaction of factors external and internal for the inner-party democracy and the party as a whole. Its development, deepening and extension are not a result of mechanical narrowing and restriction of centralism but a result of their own promotion and dialectical interaction.

Ninth, inner-party democracy is inherent at all levels and organs of the party system and possesses some specific features, determined by the place of the individual organs in the system.


Importance of  Inner-Party


Inner-party democracy has a great importance for the party activity and development. First and foremost, its on-going development and expansion and the level of its maturity are conditions of primary importance for the self-development of the party as a political organism.   On the basis of this self-development lies the unity, the activity and collective work of all party members, which depend directly on the level of inner-party democracy.

Being a voluntary, self-directing and self- governing union of people of one and the same ideological opinion, the party can develop into a monopolithic political organism if only it is a democratic organisation, directing its own activities.

The status of inner-party democracy influences directly the level and the promotion of the leading role of the party.  The promotion of the leading role of the party depends mainly on the correct and science-based policy, strategy of actions and hence on the active participation of all party members in the elaboration of the party policy, i.e. on the level of democracy in the party.

This level determines to a great extent the operation of all other factors, internal for the party and raising its leading role:   effective organisational and political work among the masses, unbreakable links of the party with the masses, democratic style of work and leadership, self-initiative and responsibility of the lower party organs and all party members, leading role of the party members etc.

The authority and the leading role of the party are promoted when all organs and party members in a disciplined, responsible and constructive way, like amoeba, fight for the implementation of the decisions taken.  This is possible only in the conditions of real and ever-growing inner-party democracy.

Equally important is the role played by inner-party democracy for the training of party cadres and members.  The formation and the training of the party members and the leading functionaries is realised through their active participation in the life and activities of the party organs.  The basic features and abilities of the party members as well as their scientific world outlook are built and consolidated as the party develops and grows.