V. I. Lenin

Report to the International Socialist Bureau, “Elections to the Fourth Duma”{1}

Published: The newspaper Le Peuple No. 325, November 20, 1912. Printed from the text of the book Correspondance entre Lénine et Camille Huysmans. 1905–1914, Paris. Translated from the French. Signed: N. Lenin.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 267.2-271.1.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.  

The coup of June 3 (16), 1907, opened the epoch of counter revolution in Russia. Everyone knows about the judicial and administrative lawlessness, the persecutions and tortures of those condemned to penal servitude that crowned this triumph of tsarism.

The upper sections of the bourgeoisie, terrified by the revolution, supported the counter-revolutionary gentry.   Tsarism was sure that it would find support and assistance among the counter-revolutionary elements of the bourgeoisie and landowners.

The electoral law of June 3 (16), 1907, is a specimen of barefaced rigging. Here are some data characterising it:

The population is divided into “curias”: landowners first-and second-category urban dwellers, peasants, Cossacks and workers. Electors, elected separately by curias (some times not directly, but through representatives), are grouped by the government into gubernia electoral assemblies, and the latter elect the deputies to the Duma.

The law distributes the electors in such a way that in the electoral assemblies of 28 gubernias (out of 50) only the landowners are assured of a majority in advance, and in the rest—the electors of the first urban curia (big capitalists).

Here is the overall picture: 200,000 gentry have 2,594 electors in the electoral assemblies of 53 gubernias, that is, 49.4 per cent of the total number of electors; 500,000 or so capitalists of the first urban curia have 788 electors (15 per cent); almost 8 million townsfolk of the second urban curia have 590 electors (11.2 per cent); nearly 70 million peasants and Cossacks have 1,168 electors (22.2 per cent); and nearly 12 million workers—112 electors (2.1 per cent).

No wonder this electoral law has produced a “black” counter-revolutionary Duma—a real “Chambre introuvable”.{2} What is surprising is that not only bourgeois liberals, but even Social-Democrats have managed to get their representatives into such a Duma.

In the workers’ curia, all electors are Social-Democrats. The ultra-reactionary gentry, with a majority in the gubernia electorl assemblies, have been forced to let in the Social-Democrats (in six gubernias, the law stipulates the election of one deputy from the workers; in other gubernias, the Social-Democrats obtain mandates through agreements with the liberals).

The Third Duma was dominated by the Octobrist Party—a party of the reactionary gentry and big capitalists subservient to tsarism. But even these “slaves” failed to satisfy the Nicholas II camarilla, this black band of brigands organising pogroms and attempts on the life of opposition deputies.

The government, which rigged the elections to get the Octobrists into the Third Duma, has now falsified the elections to get the more “loyal” parties—the “Nationalists” and “extreme Rightists”—into the Fourth Duma.

The pressure has been unprecedented. The priests have been ordered to take massive part in the elections and get the Rightists in; the arrests of the opposition candidates, the fines imposed on the press, the closure of newspapers, the dropping of suspects from the electoral rolls—all that was applied with such cynicism that even the Rightists and even the gentry were impelled to protest.

As a result, we have an even “blacker” and even more Rightist Duma, but it is the Octobrists that today turn out to be the defeated party. The liberal opposition and revolutionary democracy (Social-Democratic workers and peasant bourgeois democrats) have almost managed to retain the status quo.

The latest data on 438 (out of 442) deputies up for election to the Fourth Duma warrant the following comparison:

Third Duma Fourth Duma
Social-Democrats . . . 13 14 25
Trudoviks . . . 14 11
Cadets . . . . . . . . . 52 61 113
Progressists . . . . . . 36 33
Poles 18 14
Moslems 9 5
Octobrists 131 79 293
Nationalists 91 74
Extreme Rightists 46 120
Non-party 27 7
Total 437 438

Let us add a few words to explain the names and groupings of the parties:

Social-Democrats: the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. Trudoviks: peasant democrats, i.e., revolutionary   bourgeois democrats, whose programme includes the expropriation of the gentry. Cadets: the Constitutional-Democratic Party, actually a counter-revolutionary, liberal bourgeois party. Progressists{3}: the same liberals, but slightly more moderate. Poles and Moslems—the same thing, but on national lines. Altogether the opposition consists of 25 democrats and 113 liberals, or 138 deputies (142 in the Third Duma).

Government parties: the Octobrists speak of the constitution rarely and under their breath; the Nationalists never speak of the constitution. The Rightists openly favour a return to autocracy and oppose the constitution. Not only the Octobrists, but even a section of the Nationalists have been impelled towards the opposition by the election rigging.

As for the Social-Democrats, the following have been elected by this time:

Six deputies from the workers’ curia are Social-Democrats: Badayev from St. Petersburg; Malinovsky from Moscow; Samoilov from Vladimir; Shagov from Kostroma; Muranov from Kharkov; and Petrovsky from Yekaterinoslav. All six are workers. Then Social-Democrats have also been returned in three gubernias through agreement between democrats (socialists and Trudoviks) and liberals against the Rightists. Returned in this manner were: Khaustov from Ufa; Buryanov from Taurida Gubernia; Tulyakov from the Don Region. Then three Social-Democrats were returned from the Caucasus: Chkheidze, Chkhenkeli and Skobelev, the latter being elected by the Russian population of the Caucasus.

Two Social-Democrats were returned from Siberia: Rusanov and, from the Amur Region, Ryslev.

Let us add, too, that the election of one Social-Democrat from Irkutsk Gubernia (Siberia) was virtually assured (11 electors out of 20 were Social-Democrats). However, the governor has declared the election of six Social-Democrats in the city of Irkutsk invalid. The elections have not yet been held.

It is also necessary to add that in Warsaw, as a result of a bloc between the Bund and the P.P.S., Jagiello, a member of the Polish Socialist = Party,{4} was elected deputy.

All these data are preliminary. The full composition of all the groups of the Fourth Duma, including the Social-Democratic group, will become known after the Duma opens on November 15 (28).

Cracow, November 11, 1912


{1} The report was published in Le Peuple No. 325 of November 20, 1912, and was introduced with this editorial note: “Citizen Lenin, a delegate of the I.S.B., has sent to the Secretariat [of the I.S.B.—Ed.] the following report about the results of the latest Russian elections already to hand.”

In 1963, Lenin’s report was reprinted in the book Correspondance entre Lénine et Camille Huysmans, 1905–1914. Paris. p. 267

{2} The name given by Louis XVIII to the counter-revolutionary, extremely reactionary French Chamber of Deputies elected after the Bourbon restoration in August 1815. p. 268

{3} Progressists—a political grouping of the Russian liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie which at the elections to the Dumas and in them tried to rally elements from the various bourgeois-landowner parties and groups under the banner of “independents”.

In November 1912, they formed an independent political party with the following programme: a moderate constitution wit restricted suffrage, petty reforms, a responsible ministry, i.e., government responsible to the Duma, suppression of the revolutionary movement. During the First World War, the Progressists stepped up their activity, demanding a change of military command, mobilisation of industry for the needs of the front, and a “responsible ministry” with the participation of representatives of the Russian bourgeoisie. After the bourgeois-democratic revolution in February 1917, some of the party’s leaders took part in the bourgeois Provisional Government. Following the October Socialist Revolution, the party carried on active struggle against the Soviets. Among the leaders of the Progressists were the well-known Moscow industrialists P. P. Ryabushinsky and A. I. Konovalov, and the landowner I. N. Yefremov. At various times, the party published its political organs: the journal Moskovsky Yezhenedelnik (Moscow Weekly) and the newspapers Stove (Word), Russkaya Molva (Russian Tidings), and Utro Rossii (Morning of Russia). p. 270

{4} E. J. Jagiello—a member of the Polish Socialist Party (P.P.S.); was elected deputy to the Fourth Duma from Warsaw. The Bolsheviks strongly opposed his admission into the Social-Democratic Duma group because he had been elected with the support of the   bourgeoisie and the P.P.S. and Bund bloc. At the first vote, the group split up: six deputies (Mensheviks) voted for his admission, and six (Bolsheviks) against. With the arrival of the Irkutsk deputy, the Right-wing Menshevik I. N. Mankov, the Mensheviks obtained the majority, and Jagiello was admitted to the Social-Democratic Duma group. But under the pressure of the Bolshevik deputies, his rights within the group were limited: on all internal Party matters, he had voice but no vote. p. 270

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