(Hezb-e Tudeh-ye Iran, or Masses Party of Iran), founded in October 1941 as the direct successor of the Iranian Communist Party.
At its first conference, held in 1942, the Tudeh Party adopted a provisional program and elected its leading bodies. The party had eight deputies to the 14th convocation of the Majlis (national assembly) in 1944. The First Congress of the Tudeh Party, held in August 1944, adopted a program and party rules and elected a central committee and its control commission. The party defined its goals to include the strengthening of Iran’s national independence and sovereignty; struggle against the designs of imperialism; cooperation by Iran with all other countries on a basis of equality; struggle for peace and democratic rights and freedoms; introduction of the eight-hour workday and the adoption of labor legislation; and distribution of state lands to the peasants without compensation and the implementation of agrarian reform to serve the interests of the working peasantry. Such appeals found support among the popular masses, and by early 1946 the Tudeh Party had more than 50,000 members, as compared to 25,000 in 1944.
With the suppression of the national democratic movement in 1946, Tudeh Party committees and clubs were smashed, the party’s newspapers and magazines were closed down, and its leaders and activists were imprisoned. The Second Congress, held in April 1948, called for intensified struggle against the plans of the USA and Great Britain to exploit Iran as an agricultural and raw materials appendage of foreign monopolies and to convert the country into a military and strategic staging area. The Congress also adopted new party rules. In February 1949, on the pretext of an attempt on the shah’s life, the authorities outlawed the Tudeh Party. Party organizations were once again smashed, numerous individual members were subject to repression, and the party was forced to continue its work as an underground organization.
During the upsurge in the national liberation movement and in the struggle to nationalize the oil industry from 1951 to 1953, the Tudeh Party was legalized and became the vanguard of the democratic and patriotic forces that fought against the colonialists. The party organized meetings and demonstrations of up to 100,000 people. After the coup d’etat of August 1953, the Tudeh Party was again suppressed. The 14th plenary session of its Central Committee, held in 1971, called on the party to fight for the creation of a national democratic government that would pursue a policy of peace and friendship among peoples, ensure genuine political and economic independence for the country, grant democratic rights and freedoms, and raise the standard of living of the popular masses.
Tudeh Party delegations took part in the Conferences of Communist and Workers’ Parties held in Moscow in 1957, 1960, and 1969. The party approved the documents adopted by the conferences. The Tudeh Party is built on the principle of democratic centralism. The party’s supreme body is the Congress; between congresses, party work is directed by the Central Committee, which elects the Executive Bureau from among its membership. Iradj Eskanderi has been the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Tudeh Party since 1971. The party’s central organs are the newspaper Mardom (The People) and the theoretical journal Donya (The World).