Constitutional Democratic party
The Constitutional Democratic Party (Constitutional Democrats, formally Party of Popular Freedom, informally Kadets) was a liberal
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 political party in the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

. Party members were called Kadets, from the abbreviation K-D of the party name (Конституционная Демократическая партия in Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

). This name should not be confused with the term cadets
Cadet Corps (Russia)
The Cadet Corps is an admissions-based all boys military academy which prepared boys to become commissioned officers. Boys between the ages of 8 and 15 were enrolled. It was founded in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire in 1731 by Tsarina Anne. The term of education was seven years...

, which referred to students at military schools in the Imperial Russia. Konstantin Kavelin
Konstantin Kavelin
Konstantin Dmitrievich Kavelin was a Russian historian, jurist, and sociologist, sometimes called the chief architect of early Russian liberalism.Born in Saint Petersburg into an old noble family, Kavelin graduated from the legal department of the Moscow University...

's and Boris Chicherin
Boris Chicherin
Boris Nikolayevich Chicherin was a Russian jurist and political philosopher, who worked out a theory that Russia needed a strong, authoritative government to persevere with liberal reforms...

's writings formed the theoretical basis of the party's platform. Historian Pavel Miliukov was the party's leader throughout its existence. The Kadets were mainly supported by professionals, - university professors and lawyers were particularly prominent within the party - members of the zemstvo
Zemstvo was a form of local government that was instituted during the great liberal reforms performed in Imperial Russia by Alexander II of Russia. The idea of the zemstvo was elaborated by Nikolay Milyutin, and the first zemstvo laws were put into effect in 1864...

 (a form of local government), and some industrialists.

Radical origins (1905-1906)

The Constitutional Democratic Party was formed in Moscow on October 12-18, 1905 at the height of the Russian Revolution of 1905
Russian Revolution of 1905
The 1905 Russian Revolution was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire. Some of it was directed against the government, while some was undirected. It included worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies...

 when Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

 was forced to sign the October Manifesto
October Manifesto
The October Manifesto was issued on 17 October, 1905 by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia under the influence of Count Sergei Witte as a response to the Russian Revolution of 1905....

 granting basic civil liberties
Civil liberties
Civil liberties are rights and freedoms that provide an individual specific rights such as the freedom from slavery and forced labour, freedom from torture and death, the right to liberty and security, right to a fair trial, the right to defend one's self, the right to own and bear arms, the right...

. The Kadets were to the immediate Left of the Octobrists, another new formed party organized at the same time. Unlike the Octobrists, who were committed to constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 from the start, the Kadets were at first ambiguous on the subject, demanding universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

 (even women's suffrage) and a Constituent Assembly
Constituent assembly
A constituent assembly is a body composed for the purpose of drafting or adopting a constitution...

 that would determine the country's form of government. This radicalism was despite the fact 60% of Kadets were nobles. The Kadets were one of the parties invited by the reform-minded Prime Minister Sergei Witte
Sergei Witte
Count Sergei Yulyevich Witte , also known as Sergius Witte, was a highly influential policy-maker who presided over extensive industrialization within the Russian Empire. He served under the last two emperors of Russia...

 to join his cabinet in October-November 1905, but the negotiations broke down over the Kadets' radical demands and Witte's refusal to drop notorious reactionaries like Petr Nikolayevich Durnovo from the cabinet.

With some socialist and revolutionary parties boycotting the election to the First State Duma in February 1906, the Kadets received 37% of the urban vote and won over 30% of the seats in the Duma. They interpreted their electoral win as a mandate and allied with the left-leaning peasant Trudovik faction, forming a majority in the Duma. When their declaration of legislative intent was rejected by the government at the start of the parliamentary session in April, they adopted a radical oppositionist line, denouncing the government at every opportunity. On July 9, the government announced that the Duma was dysfunctional and dissolved it. In response, 120 Kadet and 80 Trudovik and Social Democrat deputies went to Vyborg
Vyborg is a town in Leningrad Oblast, Russia, situated on the Karelian Isthmus near the head of the Bay of Vyborg, to the northwest of St. Petersburg and south from Russia's border with Finland, where the Saimaa Canal enters the Gulf of Finland...

 (then a part of the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland
Grand Duchy of Finland
The Grand Duchy of Finland was the predecessor state of modern Finland. It existed 1809–1917 as part of the Russian Empire and was ruled by the Russian czar as Grand Prince.- History :...

 and thus beyond the reach of Russian police) and responded with the Vyborg Manifesto
Vyborg Manifesto
The Vyborg Appeal was a declaration issued by Kadets and Trudoviks politicians, former deputies of the disbanded Russian First State Duma on July 9, 1906....

 (or the "Vyborg Appeal"), written by Miliukov. In the manifesto, they called for passive resistance, non-payment of taxes and draft avoidance. The appeal failed to have an effect on the population at large and proved both ineffective and counterproductive, leading to a ban on its authors', including the entire Kadet leadership, participation in future Dumas.

It wasn't until later in 1906, with the revolution in retreat, that the Kadets abandoned revolutionary and republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

an aspirations and declared their support for a constitutional monarchy. The government, however, remained suspicious of the Kadets until the fall of the monarchy in 1917.

Finnish liberal
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 politician and professor of jurisdiction and politology, Leo Mechelin
Leo Mechelin
Leopold Henrik Stanislaus Mechelin was a Finnish professor, statesman, senator and liberal reformer...

, was expelled 1903-04, when the Kadets were preparing to form a party. Mechelin cooperated with them and wrote them a liberal constitution for Russia, to be enforced when they would get into power. At the time of Vyborg Manifesto, Mechelin was already the leader of the Finnish government ("Mechelin's senate", (1905-08)), which implemented the universal right to vote and freedoms of expression, press, congregation and association.

Parliamentary Opposition (1906-1917)

When the Second Duma was convened on February 20, 1907, the Kadets found themselves in a difficult position. Their leadership was not represented in the Duma after the Vyborg Manifesto fiasco and their numbers were reduced to about 100. Although still the largest faction in the Duma, they no longer dominated the parliament and their attempts to concentrate on lawmaking were frustrated by radicals on the Left and on the Right who saw the Duma as a propaganda tool. Although the Kadets had moderated their position in the Second Duma, in May 1907 they refused to vote for a resolution denouncing revolutionary violence, which gave the government of Pyotr Stolypin
Pyotr Stolypin
Pyotr Arkadyevich Stolypin served as the leader of the 3rd DUMA—from 1906 to 1911. His tenure was marked by efforts to repress revolutionary groups, as well as for the institution of noteworthy agrarian reforms. Stolypin hoped, through his reforms, to stem peasant unrest by creating a class of...

 a pretext to dissolve the Second Duma on June 3, 1907 and change the electoral law to drastically limit the representation of leftist and liberal parties.

Due to the changes in the electoral law, the Kadets were reduced to a relatively small (54 seats) opposition group in the Third Duma (1907-1912). Although excluded from the more important Duma committees, the Kadets were not entirely powerless and could determine the outcome of certain votes when allied with the centrist Octoberist faction against right wing nationalist deputies. With the revolution crushed by 1908, they moderated their position even further, voted to denounce revolutionary violence, no longer sought confrontation with the government and concentrated on influencing legislation whenever possible. By 1909 Miliukov could claim that the Kadets were now "the opposition of His Majesty, not opposition to His Majesty", which caused only moderate dissent among the left-leaning faction of the party.

Although the Kadets, allied with the Progressive
Progressivism is an umbrella term for a political ideology advocating or favoring social, political, and economic reform or changes. Progressivism is often viewed by some conservatives, constitutionalists, and libertarians to be in opposition to conservative or reactionary ideologies.The...

 faction and the Octobrists, were able to push some liberal bills (religious freedoms, freedom of the press and of the labor unions) through the Duma, the bills were either diluted by the upper house of the parliament or vetoed by the Tsar. The failure of their legislative program further discredited the Kadets' strategy of peaceful change through gradual reform.

In 1910 the government rekindled its pre-revolutionary Russification
Russification is an adoption of the Russian language or some other Russian attributes by non-Russian communities...

 campaign in an attempt to restrict minority rights, notably drastically curtailing Finland's autonomy. Most Kadets were opposed to these policies and, allied with the left wing of the Octobrists, tried to blunt them as much as possible, but were unsuccessful. However, a minority of Kadets headed by Pyotr Struve supported a moderate version of russification, which threatened to split the party. With the increase in popular discontent after the Lena massacre
Lena massacre
The Lena Massacre or Lena Execution refers to the shooting of striking goldfield workers by the Russian Empire's tsarist army on in northeast Siberia near the Lena River...

 on April 4, 1912 and a continuous decline in party membership after 1906, the rift in the party became more pronounced. Kadet leaders on the Left like Central Committee member Nikolai Vissarionovich Nekrasov
Nikolai Vissarionovich Nekrasov
Nikolai Vissarionovich Nekrasov was a Russian liberal politician and the last Governor-General of Finland.-Parliamentary career:...

 argued that the Duma experience had been a failure and that "constructive work" was pointless under an autocratic government. Kadet leaders on the Right like Central Committee members Vasily Maklakov
Vasily Maklakov
Vasily Alekseyevich Maklakov was a Russian trial lawyer and liberal parliamentary orator, one of the leaders of the Constitutional Democratic Party and Russian Freemasonry, notable for his advocacy of a constitutional Russian state...

, Mikhail Chelnokov, Nikolai Gredeskul
Nikolai Gredeskul
Nikolay Andreyevich Gredeskul was a Russian liberal politician.-Law professor:After graduating from the University of Kharkiv's law school, Gredeskul became a law professor and later dean of the law school there...

 and Ariadna Tyrkova-Williams
Ariadna Tyrkova-Williams
Ariadna Vladimirovna Tyrkova-Williams was a liberal politician, journalist, writer and feminist in Russia during the revolutionary period until 1920...

, on the other hand, argued for a shift to the Right. The disagreements were temporarily put aside in July 1914 at the outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 when the Kadets unconditionally supported the government and found an outlet for their energies in various kinds of relief work under the umbrella of the All-Russian Union of Zemstvos and the All-Russian Union of Cities.

Once the initial outburst of national unity feelings died down in mid-1915 as Russian retreat from Galicia showed the government's incompetence, the Kadets, together with the Progressive faction, the Octobrist faction and a part of the Nationalist faction in the Duma, formed the Progressive Bloc
Progressive Bloc
The Progressive Bloc is an electoral alliance in the Dominican Republic. The alliance is led by the Dominican Liberation Party and gained an absolute majority in the 16 May 2006 legislative election.-Electoral strength:...

 in August 1915, which was critical of the government's prosecution of the war and demanded a government of "popular confidence". As Russia's defeats in the war multiplied, the Kadets' opposition became more pronounced, culminating in Miliukov's speech in the Duma in October 1916, when he all but accused government ministers of treason.

1917 Revolution

During the February Revolution
February Revolution
The February Revolution of 1917 was the first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917. Centered around the then capital Petrograd in March . Its immediate result was the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of the Romanov dynasty, and the end of the Russian Empire...

 of 1917, Kadet deputies in the Duma and other prominent Kadets formed the core of the newly formed Russian Provisional Government
Russian Provisional Government
The Russian Provisional Government was the short-lived administrative body which sought to govern Russia immediately following the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II . On September 14, the State Duma of the Russian Empire was officially dissolved by the newly created Directorate, and the country was...

 with five portfolios. Although exercising limited power in a situation known as dual power, the provisional government immediately attempted to deal with issues of the many nationalities in the Russian Empire. They introduced legislation abolishing all limitations based on religion and nationality and introduced an element of self-determination
Self-determination is the principle in international law that nations have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no external compulsion or external interference...

 by transferring power from governor-generals to local representatives. They issued a decree recognising Polish
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 autonomy, more as a symbolic gesture in light of the German occupation of this territory. However this tendency was limited as most of the ministers feared a break up of the empire. One of the Kadet leaders, Prince Lvov, became Prime Minister and Miliukov became Russia's Foreign Minister. A radical party just 11 years earlier, after the February revolution the Kadets occupied the rightmost end of the political spectrum since all monarchist parties had been dissolved and the Kadets were the only openly functioning non-socialist party remaining.

The Kadets' position in the Provisional Government was compromised when Miliukov's promise to the Entente
Triple Entente
The Triple Entente was the name given to the alliance among Britain, France and Russia after the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente in 1907....

 allies to continue the war (April 18) was made public on April 26, 1917. The resulting government crisis led to Miliukov's resignation and a powersharing agreement with moderate socialist parties on May 4-5. The Kadets' position was further eroded during the July crisis when they resigned from the government in protest against consessions to the Ukrainian independence movement. The coalition was reformed later in July under Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky was a major political leader before and during the Russian Revolutions of 1917.Kerensky served as the second Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government until Vladimir Lenin was elected by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets following the October Revolution...

 and survived yet another government crisis in early September. Sergei Fedorovich Oldenburg was Minister of Education and served briefly as chair of the short-lived Commission on Nationality Affairs. The Kadets had become a liability for their socialist coalition partners and an evidence of the treason of the moderated socialists, exposed by Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 propaganda. With the Bolshevik seizure of power on October 25-26, 1917 and subsequent transfer of political power to the Soviets, Kadet and other anti-Bolshevik newspapers were closed down and the party was suppressed by the new regime. Oldenburg along with a group of academics visited Lenin at the Smolny Institute to complain about the arrest of several former ministers of the Provisional Government.

Russian Civil War and Decline (1918-1940)

After the Bolshevik victory in the Russian Civil War, most of the Kadet leadership was forced to emigrate and continued publishing newspapers abroad, mainly in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, until World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. However Oldenburg negotiated a working relationship between the Russian Academy of Science and the Bolsheviks, signing an agreement that the Academy supported the Soviet State in February 1918.


A party called Constitutional Democratic Party - Party of Popular Freedom
Constitutional Democratic Party - Party of Popular Freedom
Constitutional Democratic Party – Party of Popular Freedom was a political party in the USSR and Russia...

 was founded in the then-RSFSR in 1990, based on the program of the historical Kadet party.

List of Prominent Kadets

  • Alexander Alexandrovich Kornilov
    Alexander Alexandrovich Kornilov
    Alexander Alexandrovich Kornilov was a Russian historian and liberal politician.-Biography:Prior to the Russian Revolution of 1917, Kornilov was a history professor at the Polytechnicum of Peter the Great in Saint Petersburg and author of a definitive history of 19th century Russia. He specialized...

  • Prince Georgy Lvov
  • Pavel Miliukov
  • Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov
    Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov
    Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov was a Russian criminologist, journalist, and progressive statesman during the last years of the Russian Empire. He was the father of Russian-American author Vladimir Nabokov.- Life :Nabokov was born in Tsarskoe Selo, into a wealthy and aristocratic family...

  • Nikolai Vissarionovich Nekrasov
    Nikolai Vissarionovich Nekrasov
    Nikolai Vissarionovich Nekrasov was a Russian liberal politician and the last Governor-General of Finland.-Parliamentary career:...

  • Sergei Fedorovich Ol'denburg
  • Pyotr Struve
  • Ariadna Tyrkova-Williams
    Ariadna Tyrkova-Williams
    Ariadna Vladimirovna Tyrkova-Williams was a liberal politician, journalist, writer and feminist in Russia during the revolutionary period until 1920...

  • Vladimir Vernadsky
    Vladimir Vernadsky
    Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky was a Russian/Ukrainian and Soviet mineralogist and geochemist who is considered one of the founders of geochemistry, biogeochemistry, and of radiogeology. His ideas of noosphere were an important contribution to Russian cosmism. He also worked in Ukraine where he...

See also

  • Liberalism
    Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

  • Contributions to liberal theory
    Contributions to liberal theory
    Individual contributors to classical liberalism and political liberalism are associated with philosophers of the Enlightenment. Liberalism as a specifically named ideology begins in the late 18th century as a movement towards self-government and away from aristocracy...

  • Liberalism worldwide
    Liberalism worldwide
    This article gives information on liberalism in diverse countries around the world. It is an overview of parties that adhere more or less to the ideas of political liberalism and is therefore a list of liberal parties around the world....

  • List of liberal parties
  • Liberal democracy
    Liberal democracy
    Liberal democracy, also known as constitutional democracy, is a common form of representative democracy. According to the principles of liberal democracy, elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive...

  • Liberalism in Russia
    Liberalism in Russia
    This article gives an overview of liberalism in Russia. It is limited to liberal parties with substantial support, namely those that have had a representation in parliament. The sign ⇒ denotes another party in the scheme. The listed parties didn't necessarily label themselves as...

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