History

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How accurate is it to describe the constitutional reforms of the years 1906-1914 as significant? The October Manifesto in 1905 offered many Russians the hope that constitutional reform would be significant. In particular, it would bring about a constitution whereby an elected Duma would actually have authority; for example, laws issued by the Tsar would actually need their approval. However, by April, 1906, the Fundamental Law would dampen these hopes and ensure reforms were anything but significant. However, what cannot be debated is that reforms did take place and this essay will aim to identify the successes and come to a conclusion in regards to how significant a change took place.

As mentioned in introduction, many reforms took place during 1906-1914. It was the first time in Russian history that the elected assembly introduced. The four Dumas that took place within this period allowed the elected deputies to voice criticism of the Tsar criticism of the Tsar and his government. In mid-1907, Stolypin abruptly changed the way in which the Duma was elected, making controversial and improper use of Article 87 of the Fundamental Laws. The Tsar made no attempt to dispense with the duma altogether even though the opposition shown by the first two Dumas. He was advised by his foreign ministers, who at this time were in trade talks with France and Britain, that Russia’s new commercial allies were greatly impressed by his creation of a representative national parliament. Stolypin introduced new laws that restricted the vote to the propertied classes. The peasants and industrial workers lost the franchise. The consequence was that the third and fourth Dumas were heavily dominated by the right-wing parties, a reversal of the position in the first two Dumas in which the radical parties had held a large majority. Any criticisms of tsardom were now much more muted. Stolypin found the third duma more co-operative, which enabled him to pursue his land reforms without...
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