Why were Stalin’s opponents unable to prevent him from being leader of the USSR by 1929?
After Lenin’s death in 1924, there was wide speculation that Trotsky, head of the red army would succeed Lenin. Lenin wrote a testament outlining his opinions of the ‘top brass’ Bolsheviks, and a certain Joseph Stalin was described as being dangerous and should be dismissed from the party. However despite this, Stalin eventually became the undisputed ruler of Russia. The reason why Trotsky was the most likely candidate to succeed Lenin was not only because of his revolutionary record but because he was very popular among young communists, but his downfall was that he was disliked by many communists because they thought of him as being a ‘western’ communist. Another likely candidate was Bukharin as he was very popular and one foreign visitor even predicted that he would succeed Lenin. One of the least appealing contenders was Zinoviev as he was seen as to vain.
What put Stalin ahead of the rest was that he had a large powerbase within the party. This was because he was general secretary of the party and head of the central control committee. This meant that he had control over the party machine (as he decided who could join the party and who couldn’t) and could therefore rely on the support of the party members when he needed votes at the party congresses, as they were dependent on him for promotion within the party. It also meant that he could appoint his allies to government positions which would have resulted in Stalin having more power as he had lots of support and popularity. The result of Stalin having a large powerbase was that at the party congresses, he often outvoted his opponents into getting the policies passed that he wanted. This could be argued as the reason why he defeated his opponents such as Trotsky.
On the other hand, it could be argued that the fact that Stalin was underestimated by the other communists that led to him becoming ruler. I mentioned...