chapter  12
16 Pages

On the Eve of Great Changes

Before turning to the reforms that the government introduced after the revolution of 1905-7, we need to explore their social, political, and legal context. The most important element of that context was the State Duma, the representative assembly promised by the Manifesto of October 17. The government issued specific laws that determined the structure of the assembly: the statute of December 11, 1905, on elections to the State Duma, and the statutes of February 20, 1906, on the State Duma and the State CounciU A considerable segment of Russian society, particularly the liberals, hailed the creation of the Duma as an important turning point in the country's history, a landmark on Russia's road to Westernization, and the culmination of a century of struggle for popular representation. The conviction was widespread that the changes taking place were irreversible. Nevertheless, the political system that emerged at the end of 1905 and the beginning of 1906 contained serious problems from the start.