The October Manifesto was issued on 17 October, 1905 (30 October in the Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...
) by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia
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...
under the influence of Count 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...
as a response to 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...
The official name of the document is The Manifesto on the Improvement of the State Order (Манифест об усовершенствовании государственного порядка). The manifesto addressed the unrest in Russia and pledged to grant 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...
to the people: including personal immunity, freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...
, freedom of speech
Freedom of speech
Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used...
, freedom of assembly
Freedom of assembly
Freedom of assembly, sometimes used interchangeably with the freedom of association, is the individual right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests...
, and freedom of association
Freedom of association
Freedom of association is the individual right to come together with other individuals and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests....
; a broad participation in the Duma
A Duma is any of various representative assemblies in modern Russia and Russian history. The State Duma in the Russian Empire and Russian Federation corresponds to the lower house of the parliament. Simply it is a form of Russian governmental institution, that was formed during the reign of the...
; introduction of universal male suffrage, uncensored newspapers and a decree that no law should come into force without the consent of the state Duma.
The manifesto was a precursor of the first ever Russian Constitution
Russian Constitution of 1906
The Russian Constitution of 1906 refers to a major revision of the 1832 Fundamental Laws of the Russian Empire, which transformed the formerly absolutist state into one in which the emperor agreed for the first time to share his autocratic power with a parliament. It was enacted on April 23, 1906,...
The manifesto and the constitution resulted in insignificant democratization as the 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...
continued to exercise veto
A veto, Latin for "I forbid", is the power of an officer of the state to unilaterally stop an official action, especially enactment of a piece of legislation...
power over the Duma, which he dissolved and reformed several times.
OppositionThe October Manifesto divided opposition to Tsar Nicholas II. It was issued on 30 October 1905, during the '1905 Revolution.' The Kadets were appeased by the idea of having freedom of speech and a truly representative government
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...
, and the Union of October 17 or more informally Octobrist Party took their name from this manifesto. However, the Marxists maintained that Nicholas had really only made a small concession. The Duma was only a shell of democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...
as it could not pass laws without the approval of the Tsar and freedom of speech was heavily regulated. Nicholas II demonstrated his hold on power by dismissing the first and second Duma.