Why Stalin, and not Trotsky, Emerged as Lenin’s Successor

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As Lenin approached his final years of power, he was left with two

main concerns. Firstly, he was becoming increasingly alarmed about the

gradual movement of partial communism to full communism. This tied in

closely with his second, and more important concern of who was to

become his successor. As Lenin became increasingly ill, there was

rising tension between the two likely candidates to replace Lenin.

Initially, it looked as though Trotsky was the rightful heir. Having

served well in planning the revolution, he was well respected by

troops, an extremely good public speaker, an outstanding organiser,

and a keen writer of revolutionary ideas. Stalin on the other hand was

seen as dull and humourless and didn’t get on personally with Lenin,

yet there are a number of reasons why he emerged as Lenin’s successor.

To begin with, whilst the to important leaders of the Communist Part,

Kamenev and Zinoviev agreed with Trotsky Politically, they very much

disliked him personally, and therefore formed an alliance with Stalin

to prevent him coming to power. Trotsky also suffered constant attacks

from older party members who distrusted him. His domination of the Red

Army, combined with his extreme communist views, led them to become

suspicious that he might use their support to become a dictator. The

fact that he only joined the Bolshevik party in 1917 caused them to

doubt his loyalty, unlike Stalin, who had been a trustworthy member

for over 20 years.

Trotsky found himself in a rather difficult situation, after becoming

a sort of victim of his own success with the Red Army. In spite of the

fact that Trotsky had made himself extremely popular among the troops,

by ensuring that he was there to help them out in the field, he soon

found himself extremely distant from the Politburo and the circle of

powerful leaders, with little role. He therefore failed to use his

popularity within the army to help his cause, and become Lenin’s


In contrast with this, Stalin was able to use his position to his

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