views updated May 18 2018


A plenum, or plenary session, is a meeting of any organization, group, association, etc., which all members are expected to attend. During the Soviet period, the term plenum referred specifically to a meeting of all members of a Communist Party committee at a national, regional, or local level. According to the Rules of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Central Committee was required to hold a plenum at least once every six months, attended by both full and candidate members. At the first plenum after a Party Congress, the Central Committee elected the Politburo, Secretariat, and General Secretary. Other plenums usually coincided with important party or state events, such as a meeting of the Supreme Soviet or a significant international incident. During the three- to five-day session, members heard reports on party matters and approved prepared resolutions. Though originally intended by Vladimir Lenin to serve as the party's supreme decision-making body between Party Congressesproof of the party's collective leadershipthe Central Committee plenum became a more ceremonial than deliberative body by the mid-twentieth century. The plenum's main function was to endorse Politburo decisions. Infrequently, the Central Committee plenum was called on to resolve Politburo conflict; for example, a 1964 plenum removed Nikita Khrushchev from power. Proceedings remained secret, but a formal statement was issued at the end of a plenum. All decisions approved at the plenum became formal party policy. Party plenums at lower levels (e.g., regional or local) convened more often than the Central Committee, endorsing party directives and deciding how best to implement them.

See also: communist party of the soviet union


Hill, Ronald J., and Frank, Peter. (1986). The Soviet Communist Party, 3rd ed. London: George Allen & Unwin.

Smith, Gordon B. (1992). Soviet Politics: Struggling With Change, 2nd ed. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Julie K. deGraffenried


views updated Jun 27 2018

ple·num / ˈplenəm; ˈplēnəm/ • n. 1. an assembly of all the members of a group or committee.2. Physics a space completely filled with matter, or the whole of space so regarded. ∎  an enclosed chamber where a treated substance collects for distribution, as heated or conditioned air through a ventilation system.