What seemed to shock everybody was how easily the Soviet Union fell apart. In fact it was the outcome of a long-standing power struggle which was fundamentally altered when Gorbachev introduced public opinion into the Soviet political arena. By legitimising open debate on political issues the old power balance was upset, destroying first the Communist Party's monopoly of politics and then Russia's control over the Republics. There were many factors which contributed to the collapse of the Soviet superpower including prolonged economic decline, ideological fatigue, globalisation and technological advancement elsewhere, and generational changes within the political elite and in wider society. Yet in the political realm it seems that democratisation became the death blow to what many called the world's last empire.