State Duma of the Russian Empire
The State Duma of the Russian Empire was a legislative assembly
Legislative Assembly
Legislative Assembly is the name given in some countries to either a legislature, or to one of its branch.The name is used by a number of member-states of the Commonwealth of Nations, as well as a number of Latin American countries....

 in the late 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...

, which met in the Taurida Palace in St. Petersburg. It was convened four times between 1906 and the collapse of the Empire in 1917.


Coming under pressure from 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...

, on August 6, 1905, 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...

 (appointed by 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...

 to manage peace negotiations with Japan) issued a manifesto about the convocation of the Duma, initially thought to be a purely advisory body. In the subsequent 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....

, the Tsar pledged to introduce further 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...

, provide for broad participation in a new "State Duma", and endow the Duma with legislative and oversight powers. The State Duma was to be the lower house of a parliament, and the State Council of Imperial Russia
State Council of Imperial Russia
The State Council was the supreme state advisory body to the Tsar in Imperial Russia.-18th century:Early Tsars' Councils were small and dealt primarily with the external politics....

 the upper house.

However, Nicholas II was determined to retain his autocratic power. On April 23, 1906 (O.S.
Old Style and New Style dates
Old Style and New Style are used in English language historical studies either to indicate that the start of the Julian year has been adjusted to start on 1 January even though documents written at the time use a different start of year ; or to indicate that a date conforms to the Julian...

), the Tsar issued the Fundamental Laws
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,...

, which gave him the title of "supreme autocrat". Although no law could be made without the Duma's assent, neither could the Duma pass laws without the approval of the noble-dominated State Council (half of which was to be appointed directly by the Tsar), and the Tsar himself retained a veto. The laws stipulated that minister
Minister (government)
A minister is a politician who holds significant public office in a national or regional government. Senior ministers are members of the cabinet....

s could not be appointed by, and were not responsible to, the Duma, thus denying responsible government
Responsible government
Responsible government is a conception of a system of government that embodies the principle of parliamentary accountability which is the foundation of the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy...

 at the executive level. Furthermore, the Tsar had the power to dismiss the Duma and announce new elections whenever he wished; article 87 allowed him to pass temporary (emergency) laws by decrees. It was in this context that the first Duma opened four days later, on April 27.

First Duma

The first Duma opened on 27 April, with around 500 deputies; most radical left parties, such as the Socialist Revolutionary Party had boycotted the election, leaving the moderate Constitutional Democrats (Kadets) with the most deputies (around 180). Second came an alliance of slightly more radical leftists, the Trudoviks
The Trudoviks were a moderate Labour party in early 20th Century Russia...

 (Laborites) with around 100 deputies. To the right of both were a number of smaller parties, including the Octobrists. Together, they had around 45 deputies. Other deputies, mainly from peasant groups, were unaffiliated.

The Duma ran between April and June 1906, with little success. The Tsar and his loyal Prime Minister Ivan Goremykin
Ivan Goremykin
Ivan Logginovitch Goremykin was a Russian prime minister during World War I and politician with extremely conservative political views.-Biography:He was born on 8 November 1839....

 were keen to keep it in check, and reluctant to share power; the Duma, on the other hand, wanted continuing reform, including electoral reform, and, most prominently, land reform. Sergei Muromtsev, Professor of Law at Moscow University, was elected Chairman. Scared by this liberalism, the Tsar dissolved the Duma on July 8. The same day, Piotr Stolypin was named as the new Prime Minister.

In frustration, Paul Miliukov and approximately 200 deputies, mostly from the liberal Kadets party decamped 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 part of Russian Finland, to discuss the way forward. From there, they issued the Vyborg Appeal, which called for civil disobedience. Largely ignored, it ended in their arrest and exclusion from future Duma elections. This, among other things, helped pave the way for an alternative makeup for the second Duma.

Second Duma

The Second Duma (February 1907 to June 1907) was equally short-lived. The 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....

s and Menscheviks (that is, both factions of the RSDLP) and the Socialist Revolutionaries all abandoned their policies of boycotting elections to the Duma, and consequently won a number of seats. The Kadets (by this point the most moderate and centrist party), found themselves outnumbered two-to-one by their more radical counterparts. Even so, Stolypin and the Duma could not build a working relationship, being divided on the issues of land confiscation (which the socialists and, to a lesser extent, the Kadets, supported but the Tsar and Stolypin vehemently opposed) and Stolypin's brutal attitude towards law and order.

On June 1, 1907, prime minister 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...

 accused social-democrats in preparation of armed uprising and demanded from Duma to exclude 55 social-democrats from Duma sessions and strip 16 of them from parliamentary immunity
Parliamentary immunity
Parliamentary immunity, also known as legislative immunity, is a system in which members of the parliament or legislature are granted partial immunity from prosecution. Before prosecuting, it is necessary that the immunity be removed, usually by a superior court of justice or by the parliament itself...

. When this ultimatum was rejected by Duma, it was dissolved on 3 June by a ukase
A ukase , in Imperial Russia, was a proclamation of the tsar, government, or a religious leader that had the force of law...

 (imperial decree) in what became known as the Coup of June 1907
Coup of June 1907
The Coup of June 1907 is the name commonly given to the dissolution of the Second State Duma, the arrest of some its members and a fundamental change in the Russian electoral law by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia on June 16, 1907 . It is sometimes called coup d'état of June 3, 1907 because it was on...


The Tsar was unwilling to be rid of the system of the State Duma, despite the problems. Instead, using emergency powers, Stolypin and the Tsar changed the electoral law and gave greater electoral value to the votes of landowners and owners of city properties, and less value to the votes of the peasantry, whom he accused of being "misled", and, in the process, breaking his own Fundamental Laws.

Third Duma

This ensured that third Duma (1907–1912) would be dominated by gentry, landowners and businessmen. The system facilitated better, if hardly ideal, cooperation between the Government and the Duma; consequently, the Duma lasted a full five year term, and succeeded in 200 pieces of legislation and voting on some 2500 bills. Due to its more noble, and Great Russian composition, the third Duma, like the first, was also given a nickname, "The Duma of the Lords and Lackeys" or "The Master's Duma". The Octobrist party were the largest, with around one-third of all the deputies.

In terms of legislation, the Duma supported an improvement in Russia's military capabilities, Stolypin's plans for land reform and basic social welfare measures. The power of Nicholas' hated land captains was consistently reduced. It also supported more regressive laws, however, such as on the question of Finnish autonomy and Russification
Russification is an adoption of the Russian language or some other Russian attributes by non-Russian communities...

, with a fear of the Empire breaking up being prevalent. Stolypin was assassinated in September 1911 and replaced by his Finance Minister Vladimir Kokovtsov
Vladimir Kokovtsov
Count Vladimir Nikolayevich Kokovtsov was a Russian prime minister during the reign of Nicholas II of Russia.- Biography :...


Fourth Duma

The Fourth Duma of 1912–1917 was also of limited political influence. In August 1914 the Duma volunteered its own dissolution for the duration of the war. However, its former members became increasingly displeased with Tsarist control of military and other affairs and so demanded its own reinstatement, which Nicholas conceded to in August 1915. When the Tsar refused its call for the replacement of his cabinet with a 'Ministry of National Confidence' roughly half of the deputies formed a 'Progressive Bloc
Progressive Bloc (Russia)
Progressive Bloc was an alliance of political forces in the Russian Empire. It was formed when the State Duma of the Russian Empire was recalled to session during World War I, the response of Nicholas II of Russia to mounting social tensions...

' which in 1917 became a focal point of political resistance.

During the 1917 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...

, group of Duma members formed the Provisional Committee
Provisional Committee of the State Duma
Provisional Committee of the State Duma was a special government body established on March 12, 1917 by the Fourth State Duma deputies at the outbreak of the Russian February Revolution....

, which sent commissars to take over ministries and other government institutions, dismissing Tsar-appointed ministries and later formed the 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...


Seats held in Imperial Dumas

Party First Duma Second Duma Third Duma Fourth Duma
Russian Social Democratic Party
Russian Social Democratic Labour Party
The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party , also known as Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party or Russian Social Democratic Party, was a revolutionary socialist Russian political party formed in 1898 in Minsk to unite the various revolutionary organizations into one party...

18 (Mensheviks) 47 (Mensheviks) 19 (Bolsheviks) 15 (Bolsheviks)
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
thumb|right|200px|Socialist-Revolutionary election poster, 1917. The caption in red reads "партия соц-рев" , short for Party of the Socialist Revolutionaries...

Labour group
The Trudoviks were a moderate Labour party in early 20th Century Russia...

136 104 13 10
Progressist Party
Progressist Party
The Progressist Party was a group of moderate Russian liberals organized in 1908; it had 28 deputies in the Third Duma and 48 in the Fourth. Its most prominent members were Ivan Nikolaevich Efremov, Alexander Konovalov, and Pavel Ryabushinsky...

27 28 28 41
Constitutional Democratic party
Constitutional Democratic party
The Constitutional Democratic Party was a liberal political party in the Russian Empire. Party members were called Kadets, from the abbreviation K-D of the party name...

179 92 52 57
Non-Russian National Groups 121 26 21
Centre Party 33
Octobrist Party
The Octobrist Party was a non-revolutionary centrist Russian political party formally called Union of October 17 . The party's programme of moderate constitutionalism called for the fulfilment of Tsar Nicholas II's October Manifesto granted at the peak of the Russian Revolution of 1905...

17 42 154 95
Nationalists 60 93 26 22
Rightists 8 10 147 154
TOTAL 566 453 465 448

Chairmen of the State Duma of the Russian Empire

  • The First Duma: Sergei Muromtsev (Cadet Party) 1906
  • The Second Duma: Fyodor Golovin
    Fyodor Alexandrovich Golovin
    Fyodor Alexandrovich Golovin was a Russian politician. He was among the founders of the Constitutional Democratic Party and was chairman of the short-lived second convocation of the Imperial Russian Duma, which was in session from February 1907 to June 1907.Golovin was born into a noble family...

     (Cadet Party) 1907
  • The Third Duma: Nikolay Khomyakov
    Nikolay Khomyakov
    Nikolay Alekseevich Khomyakov was a Russian politician.- Life :Khomyakov was the son of Aleksey Khomyakov, a well-known Slavophile and poet. He was a graduate of Moscow University and served in the Ministry of Agriculture....

     (Octobrist Party) 1907-1910
  • The Third Duma: Alexander Guchkov
    Alexander Guchkov
    Alexander Ivanovich Guchkov was a Russian politician, Chairman of the Duma and Minister of War in the Russian Provisional Government.-Early years:...

     (Octobrist Party) 1910–1911
  • The Third Duma: Mikhail Rodzyanko
    Mikhail Rodzyanko
    Mikhail Vladimirovich Rodzianko was a Russian politician.He came from an old Ukrainian noble family of Rodzianko. He was educated at the Corps des Pages, served in Her Majesty's Regiment of the Cavalry of the Guard, and was later appointed Kammerherr of the Imperial Court...

     (Octobrist Party) 1911–1912
  • The Fourth Duma: Mikhail Rodzyanko
    Mikhail Rodzyanko
    Mikhail Vladimirovich Rodzianko was a Russian politician.He came from an old Ukrainian noble family of Rodzianko. He was educated at the Corps des Pages, served in Her Majesty's Regiment of the Cavalry of the Guard, and was later appointed Kammerherr of the Imperial Court...

     (Octobrist Party) 1912–1917

Deputy Chairmen of the State Duma of the Russian Empire

  • The First Duma
    • Prince Pavel Dolgorukov
      Pavel Dolgorukov
      Prince Pavel Dimitrievich Dolgorukov was a Russian landowner and aristocrat who was executed by the Bolsheviks in 1927....

       (Cadet Party) 1906
    • Nikolay Gredeskul (Cadet Party) 1906

  • The Second Duma
    • N.N. Podznansky (Left) 1907
    • M.E. Berezik (Trudoviki) 1907

  • The Fourth Duma
    • Prince D.D. Urusov (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:...

      • + Prince V.M. Volkonsky (Centrum-Right) (1912–1913)
    • Nikolay Nikolayevich Lvov (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:...

      ) (1913)
    • Alexander Konovalov
      Alexander Konovalov
      Alexander Ivanovich Konovalov was a Russian Kadet politician and entrepreneur. One of Russia's biggest textile manufacturers, he became a leader of the liberal, business-oriented Progressist Party and was a member of the Progressive Bloc in the Fourth Duma...

       (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:...

      ) (1913–1914)
    • S.T. Varun-Sekret (Octobrist Party) (1913–1916)
    • Alexander Protopopov
      Alexander Protopopov
      Alexander Dmitriyevich Protopopov was a Russian statesman, politician Octobrist Party.- Biography :Member of Third and Fourth Dumas...

       (Left Wing Octobrist Party) (1914–1916)
    • Nikolay Nekrasov (Cadet Party) (1916–1917)
    • Count V.A. Bobrinsky (Nationalist) (1916–1917)

External links

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