V. I.   Lenin

How to Vote in the St. Petersburg Elections (January 25)

Is There a Danger of the Black Hundreds Winning the St. Petersburg Elections?

Published: Zreniye, No. 1, January 25, 1907. Published according to the Zreniye text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 12, pages 45-56.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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The State Duma elections in the City of St. Petersburg are to take place shortly. The city voters, who number about 130,000, will have to elect 160 electors for the entire city. These 160 electors, together with the 14 electors from the workers, will elect 6 deputies to the Duma.

Who should be elected to the Duma?

Three main parties are contesting the elections in St. Petersburg: the Black Hundreds (the Right parties), the Cadets (the so-called people’s freedom party), and the Social-Democrats.

The smaller parties and trends (Trudoviks, non-party people, Popular Socialists, radicals, etc.) may join partly the Cadet election list, and partly the Social-Democratic list. This has not yet been definitely decided.

At all events, there is no doubt that there will be three election lists in St. Petersburg—the Black-Hundred, the Cadet, and the Social-Democratic.

All voters must, therefore, clearly realise whom they are sending to the Duma:

the Black Hundreds, i.e., the Right parties, who are for a government based on military courts, for pogroms and violence?

the Cadets, i.e., the liberal bourgeoisie, who go to the Duma to legislate, i.e., to compromise with the Gurkos, who actually enjoy both the right to legislate and the right to dissolve the Duma if it incurs their displeasure?

or the Social-Democrats, i.e., the party of the working class, which, at the head of the whole people, is fighting   for full freedom and socialism, for the emancipation of all working people from exploitation and oppression?

Let every voter know that he must choose between these three parties. He must decide whom to vote for: the champions of police tyranny and violence; the liberal capitalists, who through the Kutlers are bargaining with Gurkos; or for the champions of the interests of the working class and of all working people?

Citizens and voters! You are told that the Cadets and the Social-Democrats may enter into an election agreement, that they may put up a joint election list.

This is not true. Let everybody know that whatever happens there will be three lists in St. Petersburg: the Black-Hundred, the Cadet and the Social-Democratic.

You are told that if the Cadets and the Social-Democrats put up separate lists, they may split the vote and thus help the Black Hundreds to win.

This is not true. We are going to prove to you that even in the worst possible case of a split vote, i.e., even if the votes are evenly divided between the Cadets and the Social-Democrats in all election wards of St. Petersburg—even in that case a Black-Hundred victory in St. Petersburg is impossible.

It is common knowledge that during the elections to the First Duma there were two principal lists of candidates in St. Petersburg: the Cadet and the Black-Hundred (or the so-called bloc, or coalition, of the Right parties). The Cadets were victorious in all the districts of St. Petersburg.

Now there will be three lists: the Black-Hundred, the Cadet and the Social-Democratic. That means that the Social-Democrats expect to win part of the Cadet votes and also to win the support of those who did not vote in the elections to the First Duma.

You are told that this split of the Cadet and Social-Democratic vote may help the Black Hundreds to win, for the Cadets and the Social-Democrats together would be stronger than the Black Hundreds, whereas separately they may prove weaker, i.e., be defeated.

To see whether this is possible, let us take the figures of the votes cast in all the wards of St. Petersburg in the elections to the First Duma. Let us see how the votes were     distributed between the Cadets and the Black Hundreds in the various wards. We will take the least favourable case in each ward, i.e., the lowest vote cast for a Cadet (for different candidates received a different number of votes) and the highest vote cast for a Black-Hundred candidate.

We will halve the lowest Cadet vote, on the assumption that the Social-Democrat will divert exactly half the votes (this is the least favourable to us, and the most favourable to the Black Hundreds).

Let us now compare this half of the lowest Cadet vote with the highest vote cast for a Black-Hundred candidate in each ward. We will get the following figures:

Voting in St. Petersburg in the Elections to the First Duma
Wards Lowest
One half
of that
Admiralty 1,395 697 668 5
Alexander-Nevsky 2,929 1,464 1,214 16
Kazan 2,135 1,067 985 9
Narva 3,486 1,743 1,486 18
Vyborg 1,853 926 652 6
Petersburg 4,788 2,394 1,729 16
Kolomna 2,441 1,070 969 9
Moscow 4,937 2,468 2,174 20
Spassky 4,873 2,436 2,320 15
Liteiny 3,414 1,707 2,097 15
Rozhdestvensky 3,241 1,620 2,066 14
Vasilyevsky Ostrov 3,540 1,770 2,250 17

These figures show clearly that even in the most unfavourable case of a split in the Cadet vote, the Black Hundreds would have been successful in the 1906 elections in only three wards out of the twelve. They would have had only 46 electors out of 174 (160 from the city and 14 from the workers). This means that the Black Hundreds could not have been elected to the Duma at the first elections even if the Cadet vote had been split equally between the Cadet and the Social-Democratic candidates in all wards.

Thus, those who are trying to scare the voters with the possibility of a Black-Hundred victory if the Cadets and Social-Democrats split the vote, are deceiving the people.

The Black Hundreds cannot win as a result of a vote split between the Cadets and Social-Democrats.

The Cadets are deliberately spreading false rumours of a “Black-Hundred danger” so as to deter the voters from voting for the socialists.

Citizens and voters! Do not believe the yarns about the Black Hundreds winning if the votes are divided between the Cadets and Social-Democrats. Vote freely and boldly according to your convictions—for the Black Hundreds, for the bourgeois liberals, or for the socialists.

*     *

But perhaps the Cadets, who are spreading false rumours about a “Black-Hundred danger” through the newspapers Rech, Tovarishch, Sevodnya, Rodnaya Zemlya, Rus, Strana,[2] and many others, will try to advance some other arguments, try some other subterfuges.

Let us consider all possible arguments.

Perhaps the Cadet vote will be split between three and not two lists? In that case will not the Black Hundreds win in all the wards and be elected to the Duma?

No. The Cadet vote cannot be split between three lists, for there will by only three lists in St. Petersburg. Apart from the Black Hundreds, the Cadets and the Social-Democrats, there is not a single party of any importance that is putting up an independent list.

All parties in Russia have their representatives in St. Petersburg. All parties and trends have already announced their positions in the elections. Not a single party, except for the three main parties mentioned above, not one little group, even thinks of contesting the elections independently. All the smaller parties, all the trends, except the three main ones, are wavering only between these three election lists. All progressive parties and groups which sympathise with freedom are wavering only between the Cadets and the Social-Democrats.

Not one of the Trudovik parties, neither the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Committee of the Trudovik Group, nor the Popular Socialists, has expressed the desire to put up an independent list. On the contrary, all these Trudovik   parties are negotiating to join either the Cadet or the Social-Democratic list.

Hence, those who say that the Cadet vote may be split between three lists are deceiving the people. In St. Peters burg there will be only three main lists: the Black-Hundred, the Cadet, and the Social-Democratic.

*     *

A second possible argument: it is said that as a result of the Senate interpretations[3] the number of voters, especially those of the poor classes, has been reduced, and that therefore the Cadets may not poll as many votes as they did in the elections to the First Duma.

That is not true. In the First Duma elections the total number of voters in St. Petersburg was about 450,000; it is now about 130,000. The number who voted last year was no more than 60,000 to 70,000. Hence, there is no reason to fear a change in the temper and views of the bulk of the voters. There cannot be the slightest doubt that the majority of the 130,000 voters in St. Petersburg belong to the needy strata of the population, who might prefer a capitalist to a worker only owing to misunderstanding, ignorance or prejudice. If all socialists do their duty and carry on agitation to enlighten the city population, they will certainly be able to count on winning not ten thousand, but several tens of thousands of the 130,000 voters.

*     *

A third possible argument: it is said that the Black Hundreds may get a bigger vote this year, and that we cannot judge from last year’s figures.

That is not true. From all the newspaper reports, all the meetings and the information available about the state of the various parties, we see that the Black hundreds in St. Petersburg are not stronger, but probably much weaker than they were last year. The people have become politically more conscious; the Octobrists[4] are howled down at every meeting; and the dissolution of the Duma, the   government’s policy of violence and the Gurko-Lidval policy are completely alienating voters from the government. At the first elections the Black Hundreds were still able to crow; but they subsided altogether, as soon as election time began to draw near.

*     *

A fourth possible argument: it is said that the government has refused to issue election forms to the Left parties, is not permitting them to hold meetings, publish newspapers, etc., and that, therefore, it is safer and surer for all the Lefts to combine in one election list with the Cadets.

That is not true. The fact that the government is resorting to violence, is breaking the law and encroaching on the freedom of elections, can only stiffen the backs of the mass of voters. We Social-Democrats do not lose, but gain in the eyes of the voters from the fact that the police, with increasing frequency, are closing down meetings because of our speeches. As for fighting the government for its breaking the law—how would an agreement with the Cadets help in this? It would hinder, not help things, for the Cadet Party is the most cowardly of all opposition parties, the one most given to treachery. Is it possible to combat infringement of the law by Cabinet Ministers jointly with a party of which the ex-Minister Kutler, a recent colleague of Witte and Durnovo, is a member? On the contrary, it is because the Kutlers are very much closer to the Durnovos and Stolypins than to the masses of workers and shop-assistants that we, in the interests of the fight for freedom, must remain independent of the Cadet Party, the party of the Kutlers.

Let us assume that the government has decided to seize, to arrest, the Left electors. Will an agreement with the Cadets be of any avail? Or should the socialists rely on the Cadet Kutler petitioning the Cabinet Ministers Stolypin and Gurko, his recent colleagues, on behalf of the revolutionaries?

The newspapers recently reported that Stolypin is granting an audience to Mr. Milyukov, the Cadet leader, to discuss   the legalisation of the Cadet Party.[1] Are the socialists to rely on the Cadet gentlemen “petitioning” for the legalisation of the Trudovik, the Socialist-Revolutionary and the Social-Democratic parties?

A socialist with a conscience and a sense of shame will never appear in a joint list with the Kutlers and the Milyukovs.

*     *

Can the Social-Democrats win in the St. Petersburg elections?

Taking advantage of the government’s ban on Social-Democratic newspapers, the Cadet newspapers are dinning into their readers’ ears that a Social-Democratic victory at the elections is inconceivable without the aid of the Cadets.

That is not true. It is quite possible for the Social-Democrats in St. Petersburg to gain a victory over the Black Hundreds and the Cadets.

The Cadets pretend not to see this, deliberately forgetting that a split vote may be to the advantage of any party, and not the Black Hundreds alone. The Black Hundreds may win three wards out of twelve if the vote is split equally between the Cadets and Social-Democrats.

The Social-Democrats may win twelve election wards out of twelve if the vote is split between the Cadets and Black Hundreds.

To convince oneself of this, one need only consider the figures quoted above. They show that, by polling in each ward one vote more than half the Cadet total (polled at the last elections) it is possible to win in the whole of St. Petersburg.

For this we must have not less than 14,274 votes in the nine “safe” wards of St. Petersburg (which does not include the three where the Black Hundreds may win).

And is it really impossible for the Social-Democrats to poll 15,000 to 20,000 votes in St. Petersburg?

In St. Petersburg enfranchised shop-assistants and clerks alone number 30,000 to 50,000. Golos Prikazchika,[5] the shop-assistants trade union paper, was conducted on Social-Democratic lines. If all socialists were to unite for agitation among shop-assistants, and were to agree to include the Trudoviks in their list, these shop and office employees alone could ensure victory for a joint Social-Democratic and Trudovik election list.

Moreover, there are a very large number of poor tenants, fully capable of understanding that the socialists will defend their interests better than the liberal houseowners and landlords, the rich lawyers and the government officials, the Petrunkeviches, Rodichevs, Vinavers, and Kutlers.

Look at the election meetings in St. Petersburg. Even the Cadet newspapers, whose accounts of these meetings are atrociously distorted to favour the Cadets, are compelled to admit that the real contest lies between the Cadets and the socialists, and not between the Rights and the Lefts. St. Petersburg election meetings arc incontrovertible proof that the Social-Democrats, particularly in alliance with the Trudoviks, are stronger than the Cadets in St. Petersburg.

How many voters will attend election meetings? Cautious people estimate not more than one-tenth of the total number of voters will. Let us accept even this figure, which is the lowest estimate. That gives us 13,000 voters. Further, we may take it for granted that every voter who has attended meetings will take along with him to the polling-booth at least two others who have not attended any meetings. Judging from all facts and observations, 20,000 of the 39,000 voters will be for the Social Democrats in alliance with the Trudoviks.

Therefore, these figures, too, show that a victory of the Social-Democrats over the Cadets and the Black Hundreds in St. Petersburg is quite possible.

All St. Petersburg voters should know that it depends entirely on them whether the Cadets or the Social-Democrats win.

*     *

The socialists are conducting their election campaign in St. Petersburg primarily and mainly for the purpose of enlightening and rallying the masses. The socialists are striving to make clear to the masses the tasks now confronting the people in their struggle for freedom. The liberals, however, are not bothering about anything but seats in the Duma, and do not care whether the voters have any clear and definite ideas.

The liberals, i.e., the Cadets, and the vacillators who follow in their train, sometimes take a vote at election meetings, at some of which they succeed in winning overwhelming majorities for resolutions calling for an agreement among all the Lefts, on the understanding that two seats out of the six should go to the Cadets.

Those who propose such resolutions and those who vote for them show that they fail to realise the situation in the St. Petersburg elections. There will not and cannot be an agreement of “all the Lefts” in St. Petersburg. There will be three election lists in St. Petersburg: the Black-Hundred, the Cadet, and the Social-Democratic.

Moreover, it is ridiculous even to vote for the Cadets getting two seats out of the six. Those who really want such an outcome must understand that it cannot be effected by a deal with the Cadets. It can be done only by voting for the Social-Democrats.

In fact, the result that some people desire (six beats for the Lefts, of which two go to the Cadets) can be achieved only it the Social-Democrats gain a partial victory in St. Petersburg. Let us assume, for example, that the Social-Democrats win only in four constituencies, say, in the Spassky, Moscow, Petersburg and Vyborg wards. They would then have 60 electors, and with the worker curia, 74 electors. The Black Hundreds (we take the most unfavourable and most unlikely case) will have 46 electors (Liteiny, Rozhdestvensky and Vasilyevsky Ostrov wards). The Cadets will then have the remaining 54 electors. This is the way we could really secure the election of Left Duma deputies for St. Petersburg, with a preponderance of those standing Left of the Cadets. It cannot be achieved by   bargaining with the Cadets, as certain unintelligent and vacillating people are doing.

*     *

Let us briefly recapitulate the conclusions we have drawn. Only three main parties are contesting the St. Peters burg elections, and electors will have three lists before them: the Black-Hundred, the Cadet, and the Social-Democratic.

The danger of a Black-Hundred victory in St. Petersburg is an absurd fabrication.

Even if the Cadet vote is split least favourably between the Cadets and the Social-Democrats, a Black-Hundred victory is impossible.

The fable of the “Black-Hundred danger” in St. Petersburg is deliberately fostered by the Cadets to avert the real danger threatening them in the form of a socialist victory.

The Trudoviks, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, and several small groups have not yet made up their minds whether to follow the Cadets or the Social-Democrats.

In St. Petersburg it is quite possible for the Social-Democrats to win complete victory over the Black Hundreds and the Cadets.

Voters must vote in accordance with their convictions and sympathies, and not out of fear of a fictitious Black-Hundred danger.

Are you for the government, the liberal bourgeoisie, or the Social-Democrats?

Citizens, make your choice!


[1] At an election meeting at the Tenishev School on January 22 Mr Vodovozov stated that Mr. Milyukov had been to see Stolypin and had come to terms with him, and that the people’s freedom party is responsible for its leaders. Without denying this fact, Mr. Gredeskul declared that if Mr. Milyukov had been to see Stolypin, it was in the interest of the country and the party.—Lenin

[2] Sevodnya (Today)—a liberal-bourgeois evening newspaper published in St. Petersburg from 1906 to 1908.

Rus (Russia)—a liberal-bourgeois daily newspaper published in St. Petersburg from 1903 to 1908 with intervals and under different names—Rus (Russia), Molva (Hearsay), Dvadtsaty Vek (The Twentieth Century).

Strana (The Country)—a liberal-bourgeois daily newspaper published in St. Petersburg in 1906 and 1907.

[3] Senate interpretations—instructions on and interpretations of the State Duma election law of December 11 (24), 1905, published by the Senate. The interpretations of the Senate deprived various groups of the population—some of the workers, peasants and non-Russians—of their franchise p. 51

[4] Octobrists—members of the Union of October Seventeenth, a party formed in Russia after the publication of the tsar’s manifesto on October 17, 1905. This was a counter-revolutionary party representing and defending the interests of the big bourgeoisie, and land owners engaged in capitalist farming. It was headed by the prominent industrialist and Moscow house-owner A. I. Guchkov, and the big landowner M. V. Rodzyanko. The Octobrists gave full support to the domestic and foreign policy of the tsarist government.

[5] Golos Prikazchika (Shop-Assistant’s Voice)– a weekly newspaper published in St. Petersburg from April to October 1906. p. 54

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