People's republic is an official title used by some currently or formerly communist or left-wing states. It is mainly associated with soviet republics, socialist states following people's democracy, sovereign states with a democratic-republican constitution usually mentioning socialism, or simply a title used by a given country.
A number of the short-lived socialist states which formed during World War I and its aftermath called themselves people's republics. Many of these sprang up in the territory of the former Russian Empire which collapsed following the Russian Revolution of 1917. Additional people's republics emerged following the Allied victory in World War II, mainly within the Soviet Union's Eastern Bloc.
As a term, it is associated with socialist states as well as communist countries adhering to Marxism-Leninism, although its use is not unique to such states. A number of republics with liberal democratic political systems such as Algeria and Bangladesh adopted the title, given its rather generic nature, after popular wars of independence. Nonetheless, they usually mention socialism in their constitutions.
The first people's republics that came into existence were those formed following the Russian Revolution. Ukraine was briefly declared a people's republic in 1917. The Khanate of Khiva and the Emirate of Bukhara, both territories of the former Russian Empire, were declared people's republics in 1920. In 1921, the Russian protectorate of Tuva became a people's republic, followed in 1924 by neighbouring Mongolia. Following World War II, developments in Marxist-Leninist theory led to the appearance of people's democracy, a concept which potentially allowed for a route to socialism via multi-class, multi-party democracy. Countries which had reached this intermediate stage were called people's republics. The European states that became people's republics at this time were Albania,Bulgaria,Czechoslovakia,Hungary,Poland,Romania and Yugoslavia. In Asia, China became a people's republic following the Chinese Communist Revolution and North Korea also became a people's republic.
Many of these countries also called themselves socialist states in their constitutions. During the 1960s, Romania and Yugoslavia ceased to use the term people's in their official name, replacing it with the term socialist as a mark of their ongoing political development. Czechoslovakia also added the term socialist into its name during this period. It had become a people's republic in 1948, but the country had not used that term in its official name. Albania used both terms in its official name from 1976 to 1991. In the West, these countries are often referred to as communist states. However, none of them described themselves in that way as they regarded communism as a level of political development that they had not yet reached. Terms used by communist states include national-democratic, people's democratic, socialist-oriented and workers and peasants states. The communist parties in these countries often governed in coalitions with other progressive parties.
During the postcolonial period, a number of former European colonies that had achieved independence and adopted Marxist-Leninist governments took the name people's republic. Angola,Benin, Congo-Brazzaville,Ethiopia,Cambodia,Laos,Mozambique and South Yemen followed this route. Following the Revolutions of 1989, the people's republics of Central and Eastern Europe (Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland) and Mongolia dropped the term people's from their names as it was associated with their former communist governments and became known simply as republics, adopting liberal democracy as their system of government. At around the same time, most of the former European colonies that had taken the people's republic name began to replace it as part of their move away from Marxism-Leninism and towards democratic socialism or social democracy.
The current officially socialist states that use the term people's republic in their full names include:
Historical examples include:
Other titles commonly used by Marxist-Leninist and socialist states are democratic republic (e.g. the German Democratic Republic or the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia between 1943 and 1946) and socialist republic (e.g. the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam).
The collapse of the European empires during and following World War I resulted in the creation of a number of short-lived non-Marxist-Leninist people's republics during the revolutions of 1917-1923. In many cases, these governments were unrecognised and often had Marxist-Leninist rivals.
The Russian Empire produced several non-Marxist-Leninist people's republics after the October Revolution. The Crimean People's Republic was opposed to the Bolsheviks and the latter went on to capture its territory and establish the Taurida Soviet Socialist Republic. The anti-Bolshevik Kuban People's Republic was established in Russia's Kuban region and survived until the Red Army captured the area. The socialist-leaning Ukrainian People's Republic declared its independence from the Russian Republic, but it had a rival in the Ukrainian People's Republic of Soviets (later the Ukrainian Soviet Republic) whom it fought during the Ukrainian War of Independence. The Belarusian People's Republic tried to create an independent Belarusian state in land controlled by the German Imperial Army, but the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia replaced it once the German army had left. All of these territories finally became constituent parts of the Soviet Union.
In the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, the West Ukrainian People's Republic was formed in eastern Galicia under the political guidance of Greek Catholic, liberal and socialist ideologies. The territory was subsequently absorbed into the Second Polish Republic. Meanwhile, the Hungarian People's Republic was established, briefly replaced by the Hungarian Soviet Republic and eventually succeeded by the Kingdom of Hungary.
In Germany, the People's State of Bavaria (German: Volksstaat Bayern)[b] was a short-lived socialist state and people's republic formed in Bavaria during the German Revolution of 1918-1919 as a rival to the Bavarian Soviet Republic. It was succeeded by the Free State of Bavaria which existed within the Weimar Republic.
During the 1960s and 1970s, a number of former colonies that had gained independence through revolutionary liberation struggles adopted the name people's republic. Examples include Algeria,Bangladesh and Zanzibar.Libya adopted the term[c] after its Al Fateh Revolution against King Idris.
In the 2010s, Ukraine's separatist movements during the War in Donbass declared the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk to be people's republics, but they have not received diplomatic recognition from the international community.
Founded on socialist ideals, they currently include:
Currently unrecognized people's republics include:
Historical people's republics include:
[People's Republic -] Used in the official title of several present or former communist or left-wing states.
Contrary to Western usage, these countries describe themselves as 'Socialist' (not 'Communist'). The second stage (Marx's 'higher phase'), or 'Communism' is to be marked by an age of plenty, distribution according to needs (not work), the absence of money and the market mechanism, the disappearance of the last vestiges of capitalism and the ultimate 'whithering away' of the State.
Among Western journalists the term 'Communist' came to refer exclusively to regimes and movements associated with the Communist International and its offspring: regimes which insisted that they were not communist but socialist, and movements which were barely communist in any sense at all.
Ironically, the ideological father of communism, Karl Marx, claimed that communism entailed the withering away of the state. The dictatorship of the proletariat was to be a strictly temporary phenomenon. Well aware of this, the Soviet Communists never claimed to have achieved communism, always labeling their own system socialist rather than communist and viewing their system as in transition to communism.
The decisive distinction between socialist and communist, as in one sense these terms are now ordinarily used, came with the renaming, in 1918, of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks) as the All-Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks). From that time on, a distinction of socialist from communist, often with supporting definitions such as social democrat or democratic socialist, became widely current, although it is significant that all communist parties, in line with earlier usage, continued to describe themselves as socialist and dedicated to socialism.
Because many communists now call themselves democratic socialists, it is sometimes difficult to know what a political label really means. As a result, social democratic has become a common new label for democratic socialist political parties.
In the 1990s, following the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the breakup of the Soviet Union, social democracy was adopted by some of the old communist parties. Hence, parties such as the Czech Social Democratic Party, the Bulgarian Social Democrats, the Estonian Social Democratic Party, and the Romanian Social Democratic Party, among others, achieved varying degrees of electoral success. Similar processes took place in Africa as the old communist parties were transformed into social democratic ones, even though they retained their traditional titles [...].