Demokratizatsiya was a slogan introduced by Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in January 1987 calling for the infusion of "democratic" elements into the Soviet Union's single-party government. Gorbachev's Demokratizatsiya meant the introduction of multi-candidate—though not multiparty—elections for local Communist Party (CPSU) officials and Soviets. In this way, he hoped to rejuvenate the party with progressive personnel who would carry out his institutional and policy reforms. The CPSU would retain sole custody of the ballot box.
The slogan of Demokratizatsiya was part of Gorbachev's set of reform programs, including glasnost (increasing public discussion of issues and accessibility of information to the public), officially announced in mid-1986, and uskoreniye, a "speed-up" of economic development. Perestroika (political and economic restructuring), another slogan that became a full-scale campaign in 1987, embraced them all.
By the time he introduced the slogan of Demokratizatsiya, Gorbachev had concluded that implementing his reforms outlined at the Twenty-Seventh Party Congress in February 1986 required more than discrediting the "Old Guard". He changed his strategy from trying to work through the CPSU as it existed and instead embraced a degree of political liberalization. In January 1987, he appealed over the heads of the party to the people and called for democratization.
By the time of the Twenty-Eighth Party Congress in July 1990, it was clear that Gorbachev's reforms came with sweeping, unintended consequences, as nationalities of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union pulled harder than ever to break away from the Union and ultimately dismantle the Communist Party.