V. I.   Lenin

The Social-Democrats and Electoral Agreements


The election campaign for the Second Duma is now a subject of great interest in the workers’ party. Special attention is being devoted to the question of “blocs”, i.e., permanent or temporary electoral agreements between the Social-Democrats and other parties. The bourgeois, Cadet press— Rech, Tovarishch, Novy Put, Oko, etc.—are doing their utmost to convince the workers of the need for a “bloc” (an electoral agreement) between the Social-Democrats and the Cadets. Some Menshevik Social-Democrats are also advocating such blocs (Cherevanin in Nashe Dyelo and Tovarishch), others are opposed to them (Martov in Tovarishch). The Bolshevik Social-Democrats are opposed to such blocs, and agree only to partial agreements at the higher stages of the election campaign on the distribution of seats in proportion to the polling strength of the revolutionary and opposition parties at the primary ballot.

We shall try to state briefly the case for this last standpoint.


Social-Democrats regard parliamentarism (participation in representative assemblies) as one of the means of enlightening and educating the proletariat and organising it in an independent class party; as one of the methods of the political struggle for the emancipation of the workers. This Marxist standpoint radically distinguishes Social-Democracy from bourgeois democracy, on the one hand, and from anarchism on the other. Bourgeois liberals and radicals regard parliamentarism as the “natural” and the only normal and legitimate method of conducting state affairs in general,   and they repudiate the class struggle and the class character of modern parliamentarism. The bourgeoisie exerts every effort, by every possible means and on every possible occasion, to put blinkers on the eyes of the workers to prevent them from seeing that parliamentarism is an instrument of bourgeois oppression, to prevent them from realising the historically limited importance of parliamentarism. The anarchists are also unable to appreciate the historically defined importance of parliamentarism and entirely renounce this method of struggle. That is why the Social-Democrats in Russia strenuously combat both anarchism and the efforts of the bourgeoisie to stop the revolution as soon as possible by coming to terms with the old regime on a parliamentary basis. They subordinate their parliamentary activities entirely and absolutely to the general interests of the working-class movement and to the special tasks of the proletariat in the present bourgeois-democratic revolution.

Hence it follows, firstly, that the participation of the Social-Democrats in the Duma campaign is of a quite different nature from that of other parties. Unlike them, we do not regard this campaign as an end in itself or even as being of cardinal importance. Unlike them, we subordinate this campaign to the interests of the class struggle. Unlike them, the slogan we put forward in this campaign is not parliamentarism for the sake of parliamentary reforms, but the revolutionary struggle for a constituent assembly. More over, we wage this struggle in its highest forms, which have arisen from the historical development of the forms of struggle during the last few years.[1]



[1] We shall not here touch on the question of boycott, as this does not come within the scope of this pamphlet. We shall only remark that this question cannot be properly appraised apart from the concrete historical situation. The boycott of the Bulygin Duma was successful. The boycott of the Witte Duma was necessary and correct. The revolutionary Social-Democrats must be the first to take the line of the most resolute, the most direct struggle, and must be the last to adopt more circuitous methods of struggle. The Stolypin Duma cannot he boycotted in the old way, and it would be wrong to do so after the experience of the First Duma.—Lenin

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