Why Was Stalin, and Not One of his Rivals, Successful in the Struggle for Power 1924-9?
When Lenin died in 1924, the position was opened up for the head of the Communist Party to five candidates; Bukharin, Trotsky, Kamanev, Minoviev and Stalin. Before his death, Lenin's Testament criticised each of these and there was no clear favour for who he wished to succeed him. Stalin, arguably the least favourable candidate in 1924 after he had insulted Lenin's wife, was able to outmanoeuvre his opponents by strengthening his ideological prestige whilst using his role as General Secretary to gain support. The ban on factions allowed him to expel his opponents in turn. It was Stalin's switch on his stance on the NEP which disgraced Bukharin (then his last opponent) and succeed Lenin against all odds.
Arguably the main reason for Stalin's succession to Lenin was due to his role as General Secretary and the advantages it brought with it. Stalin was responsible for deciding candidates for promotions and so was able to develop a large support base. This was illustrated at the 14th Party Congress when the Duumvirate won against the New Opposition by 559-65 votes, despite their theory of 'Socialism in One Country', which strayed from true Leninism. Stalin was also able to avoid disgrace by using his role to postpone the 12th Party Congress where Lenin's Testament was deemed to be read. The testament criticised most senior Communists and damned Stalin as 'too rude' and 'intolerable... [as] secretary-general'. By postponing the Testament, this allowed time for his associates, Zinoviev and Kamanev (Triumvirate) to have the testament severely censored. Stalin's popularity and control which eventually lead to his Succession was primarily down to his support base which he developed during his time as General Secretary.
Lenin's 1921 ban on factions put Stalin's rivals at a disadvantage for gaining support in the power struggle. The ban on factions stopped debate and open...
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