Weaknesses of the provisional government

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  • The provisional government had never been meant to last. It was intended to be an interim government. The Constituent Assembly was the ultimate dream as it would be the first fully elected democratic Russian government.

  • The Provisional Government was always open to the charge that as an unelected, self appointed body it had no right to exercise the authority that probably would belong to the Constituent Assembly.

  • The scope of the PG for action was limited because real power was held by the Soviet

  • The policies of the government led to its downfall. The decision to continue the war created a huge amount of opposition

  • Failure to deal with the land issue incurred the opposition of the peasants

  • Lost support of the national minorities by refusing to give them a degree of autonomy

  • Did nothing about the deterioration of the economy and lack of social reform contributed to radicalisation of the workers

  • The mistakes made by the leader, Kerensky were decisive. He decided to launch a new offensive against Germany which would prove to be disastrous and led to the July Days

  • Kornilov affair left him discredited and left the Bolsheviks, the saviours of Russia, armed with weapons


  • Other revolutionary parties had accepted the February revolution as a genuine revolution so it made sense for them to co-operate with the Provisional Government. Supposed revolutionary parties were prepared to enter into coalition with the Kadets, the dominant party in the government, and await the convening of the Constituent Assembly. This gave the Bolsheviks a powerful propaganda weapon which Lenin exploited. He charged the other revolutionary parties with having sold out to the middle class bourgeoisie.

  • The other parties were weakened in their support for the war. None of them opposed the war with the consistency of Lenin’s Bolsheviks.

  • Mensheviks saw the February Revolution as marking a critical stage in the class war, when the bourgeois (middle) had overthrown the old feudal (upper) class. This, as Marx had stated, was necessary before the proletariat (workers) could take power. However the Mensheviks believed the Russia did not have a proletariat capable of revolution and should wait before attempting one.


  • Bolsheviks had opposed the PG and called for its overthrow to save Russia

  • Bolsheviks were the only party opposed to continuing the war

  • Bolsheviks won support of the peasants with their land policy

  • Radical policies were in tune with the workers and soldiers aspirations – “Peace, Bread, Land”

  • Lenin was a strong leader who had been planning for revolution – “What is to be Done?”

  • Lenin persuaded the Bolsheviks to act before the Constituent Assembly elections and before the opening of the Second Congress of Soviets. On 10th October he persuaded the Central Committee that the time was right to seize power

  • In September Trotsky was elected Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet.

  • By September the Bolsheviks had control of the Petrograd Soviet as well as the Moscow Soviet

  • Trotsky persuaded the Soviet to set up the Military Revolutionary Committee to plan the revolution

  • Trotsky won over some army units in Petrograd and persuaded others to stay neutral

  • Workers in the Peter and Paul fortress were armed with weapons

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