The Dumas and Stolypin

History AS - Unit 1

New Constitution

  • new constitutional arrangement (After October Manifesto) - 2 legislative houses;
  • Government - appointed by tsar (responsible to Crown not Duma)
  • Lower Chamber (State Duma) - members elected through indirect voting - in favour of nobility + peasants - deputies elected for 5 year - term
  • Upper Chamber (State Council) - half elected by zemstva and half appointed by tsar
  • (see Fundamental Laws at end of chapter)

Political Groups

Social Democratic Workers' party (SD) - Bolsheviks + Mensheviks:
  • founded 1898 - committed to Marxism and split in 1903
  • Bolsheviks: led by Lenin - believed in discipline, centralisation, organisation etc. and from 1905 favoured peasant/proletariat alliance
  • Mensheviks: led by Martov - believed in cooperation with bourgeoisie/liberals (rather than peasantry) and use of legal channels of opposition
Social Revolutionaries (SR):
  • founded in 1901 and led by Chernov
  • favoured populist ideas; re-distribution of land + nationalisation (+ terrorism)
Trudoviks (Labour Group):
  • non-revolutionary of SR party - moderate liberal views (no formal programme)
  • favoured nationalisation of non-peasant land, constituent assembly, minimum wage + 8-hour working day - supported by peasants and intelligentsia
Kadets (Constitutional Democrats):
  • led by Milyukov - central liberal party which favoured constitutional monarchy with parliamentary government; full civil rights + compulsory redistribution of large private estates - with compensation + legal settlement of workers' disputes
Octobrists (Union of 17th October):
  • multiple leaders such as Guchkov - moderate conservative party - accepted October Manifesto and opposed further privileges to workers or peasants - supported by wealthy landowners + industrialists
  • loose grouping of businessmen - favoured moderate reform
Rightists (+ 'Union of the Russian People):
  • multiple leaders such as Purishkevich - Union of Russian People was extremely right-wing; favoured monarchism, Orthodoxy, pan-slavism + anti-semitism
  • promoted violent attacks on left-wing + pogroms through gangs/Black Hundreds
Nationalist + religious groupings:
  • Ukrainians, Poles, Georgians, Muslims - seeking rights + greater independence

The Four Dumas

The First Duma (May - July 1906)

  • overwhelmingly radical-liberal composition
  • Kadets fought skilfully + won largest number of seats (182)
  • Sergei Witte (head of Council of Ministers) under pressure (disappointment for liberals) - replaced by Ivan Goremykin - old-fashioned conservative
  • too radical - they wanted to pass an 'Address to the throne' (abolition of death penalty, abolition of State Council, political amnesty etc.)
  • Nicholas informed Goremykin that these demands were 'totally inadmissable' in which Goremykin passed vote of 'no confidence' + wanted tsar's ministers to resign
  • 10 weeks later, the Duma was dissolved + Stolypin replaced Goremykin as PM

The Second Duma (February - June 1907)

  • Stolypin's government supported the Octobrists (who doubled their representation) - moderate-liberal centre had reduced while more extreme left-wing increased enormously; Bolsheviks, Mensheviks + Social Revolutionaries were now participating
  • 'Duma of National Anger' - very oppositional and neither left or right wanted it to succeed - they crippled its political force
  • Stolypin struggled to find support for his agrarian reform programme - Duma refused to approve his legislation passed under the emergency powers granted by Article 48
  • SO he spread a story about a Social Democrat plot to assassinate the tsar - they remained immune from arrest so Stolypin dissolved the Duma

The Third Duma (November 1907 - June 1912)

  • Octobrists + Rightists won the majority of seats (favoured the government)
  • Kadets + socialists reduced in size + divided in principles
  • 'Duma of Lords and Lackeys' - very submissive; agreed 2, 200 of 2, 500 government proposals (such as for agricultural reform)
  • 1911 - Octobrists were government opponents and the Duma had to be suspended twice (while government forced through legislation under emergency provisions)
  • by 1912 - Duma had no control over actions of tsar of government

The Fourth Duma (November 1912 - 17)

  • party groupings were similar (though Octobrists were not as successful)
  • fairly mellow - new Prime Minister (Kokovtsov - until 1914) who replaced Stolypin (who died in 1911) proclaimed 'Thank God we still have no parliament'
  • he ignored the Duma and its influence decreased rapidly - workers overpowered

Pyotr Stolypin's Agrarian Reforms

  • wanted radical reform of Russia - prosperous peasantry would help future Russia - Kulaks were encouraging to other peasants - supportive towards tsar
  • Stolypin wanted to abolish the mir's communal land term - peasants would become permanent owners of their land + in one piece (not scattered strips)
  • began in 1903 - agreement that peasants pay taxes was removed

Land Reforms

  • September 1906 - peasants were allowed to buy more state + Crown land
  • October 1906 - peasants granted equal rights in their local government
  • November 1906 - peasants can leave the commune + collective ownership of land by a family is abolished
  • land organisation commissions set up + a new peasant Land Bank created - help peasants fund their land ownership
  • hereditary ownership of land by peasants: 20% (1905) to nearly 50% (1915)
  • redemption payments officially abolished (from January 1 1907)
  • June 1910 - all communes which had not re-distributed land since 1861 - dissolved
  • between 1905 + 1915 Stolypin encouraged 3.5 million peasants to emigrate from over-populated rural areas - south + west districts became major agriculture regions - dairy farming, eggs, butter + cereal production


  • May 1915 - only 14% communal allotment land had passed into private ownership (+ changes in land arrangements took a long time to process)
  • by 1913 - only 1.3 million out of 5 million applications for the consolidation + hereditary terms of individual farms had been dealt with
  • by 1914 - only 10% of peasant holdings had moved beyond strip farming (many were reluctant to give up the security of the mir)
  • landowners held private properties but were often threatened to hand them over
  • the reforms produced a growing class of alienated, poor + landless peasants - while one family improved, another descended into deeper hardship; having to rent land and often join the workers in the city factories