V. I.   Lenin

The Campaign for the Elections to the Fourth Duma



For the purpose of providing a concrete definition of the duties of working-class democrats in the election campaign, it would be useful, we believe, to examine, in as great detail as possible, the data relating to the elections to the Third Duma in a few individual gubernias. In the first place, such an examination will help us to understand more clearly and to become more thoroughly familiar with the intricate and involved electoral system provided by the law of June 3, 1907; and, secondly, it will give all those active in the election campaign a very real idea of their position as democrats, of the “circumstances” under which they will have to carry on their work. If the democrats in the various localities study the data relating to their respective gubernias, that will add to our data, help to correct errors, and immediately arouse the interest of everyone who is aware of his duty to participate in the elections with a view to the political enlightenment of the wage-workers and the organisation of the forces of democracy.

Take, for example, Kazan Gubernia. It is represented in the Third Duma by ten deputies, equally divided between the Rights and the opposition—five Rights (four Octobrists and one Nationalist) and five liberals (one Progressist, two Cadets, and two Moslems). There are neither Trudoviks nor Social-Democrats.

And yet, judging by the data on Kazan Gubernia, it must be admitted that the democrats had a fairly good chance there. Of the Rights, one (Sazonov) was elected by the assembly of landowners, three Octobrists were elected by the first and second assemblies of urban voters (including Mr. Kapustin, an inveterate counter-revolutionary, who was elected at the second assembly of urban voters), and one Octobrist at the general assembly of electors. Of the liberals, one was elected by the assembly of landowners, one from the peasants (the Cadet Lunin) and three at the general assembly of electors.

Since the general assembly of electors elected three liberals and one Right, it is obvious that the liberals had a majority in the gubernia electoral assembly, but it was a precarious majority, otherwise not a single Right would have been elected by the general assembly. The precariousness of the liberal majority is also evident from the fact that the landowners elected one Progressist and one Right; had the liberals had a stable majority they would have prevented the latter’s election.

Altogether Kazan Gubernia is allowed 117 electors who are divided among the several curias as follows: peasants 33, landowners 50, first urban curia 18, second urban curia 14, and workers 2. Consequently, the landowners together with the first urban curia represent the majority (50+18==68 out of 117). As we know, the law of June 3, 1907, is so framed as to guarantee in all gubernias such a majority or an even more “reliable” one, i.e., a majority made up of landowners alone (the landowner curia alone to have an absolute majority in the gubernia electoral assembly).

The liberals won half the seats in the Duma because they were apparently well represented among the landowners. On the other hand, it seems that the urban electors were practically all Rights. Unless we assume this to have been the case, it is hard to explain how it happened that the   deputies elected from the two urban assemblies were Rights when the liberals had a majority in the gubernia electoral assembly. The Cadets were compelled to vote for Rights. Given the precarious majority of the liberals among the electors, mentioned above, the working-class democrats would have a convenient field for action; they could take advantage of the dissensions among the landowners and capitalists to organise the forces of democracy as a whole and to get Social-Democrats and, in particular, Trudoviks elected to the Duma.

If, for instance, there were 57 Rights and as many liberals among the electors and only three democrats (two worker Social-Democrats, and one peasant Trudovik), that alone would enable the three democrats to elect one Social-Democrat to the Duma—not to mention the rewarding task of rallying the democratic forces which these three could tackle, considering that there would be 33 peasant electors. We have assumed that there might be three democrats, be cause three is the minimum required by the law (Article 125 of the Regulations governing the elections), to nominate candidates by ballot—a candidate who fails to obtain three nomination ballots, cannot stand for election. Obviously, the three required by the law could be made up by two liberals joining a democrat, provided the liberals do not “progress” (in the Vekhi direction) to the point where even in the gubernia electoral assembly they prefer an Octobrist to a Social-Democrat.

In the case of a tie between the Rights and the liberals even one democrat, by voting now with the flights against the liberals, snow with the liberals against the Rights, could prevent the election of any candidate to the Duma and thus (in accordance with Article t19 of the Regulations governing the elections) bring about an adjournment the duration of which, according to the same article, is set by the assembly itself, but may not exceed twelve hours, and arrange for an understanding between the liberals and the democrats on condition that the latter obtain seats in the Duma.

The example of Kazan may serve as an illustration of two possible lines for the workers’ policy in the elections to the Fourth Duma (and, consequently, lines for the workers’ policy in general, since the policy pursued in the elections   is but the application of the general policy to a specific case). One line is to vote; as a general rule, for the more progressive candidates, without going into any further definitions. The other line is to take advantage of the antagonism between the Rights and the liberals t6 organise the democrats. The ideological implication of the first line is passive subordination to the hegemony of the Cadets; the practical result of this line in case of success would be an increase in the Octobrist-Cadet majority in the Fourth Duma at the expense of the Right-Octobrist majority (with a possible decrease in the democratic minority). The ideological implication of the second line is the waging of a struggle against the leadership of the Cadets over the peasants and over bourgeois democracy in general; its practical result in case of success would be the increase and consolidation, the strengthening of the group of democrats in the Fourth Duma.

In practice the first line would amount to a liberal labour policy. The second line represents the Marxist working-class policy. As for a more detailed explanation of the meaning of these two policies, we shall have many occasions to revert to that in the future.



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