The preceding two chapters, on personnel changes and the economy, have already made abundantly clear one of the central dilemmas facing Mikhail Gorbachev: once he had decided to embark on a course of reform, he had to rely for its implementation on the institutions which he had inherited and to which he owed his own position — the CPSU and the government, ministries, planning agencies and Soviets of the state. The fact that senior members of both were one and the same people seemed to preclude the possibility of playing off one against the other. While it was possible to take some steps to alter their character through the personnel changes outlined in Chapter 7, the vastness of these organisations and their conservatism made it unlikely that these bodies could ever be won over to give whole-hearted support to the reform programme. Ultimately, as his programme gathered momentum, Gorbachev sought to bypass them by appealing directly to public pressure through the processes of glasnost and demokratizatsiia (openness and democratisation). Before moving onto these themes in the next chapter, it is worth considering steps to reform the existing institutions, and whether Gorbachev had any real alternatives on offer.
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