Topic: Imperial Russia
The state reception marking the opening of the First State Duma in St. George's Hall in the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, 1906.
In attendance are Emperor Nicholas II (center), the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (left) and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (right).
Note: this article has been edited and updated from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
The State Duma as a legislative and advisory institution of the Russian empire was established under the Manifesto of Emperor Nicholas II of 6 August, 1905 ‘On establishment of State Duma’.
During the October political strike Nicholas II issued the Manifesto of 17 October, 1905 under which the State Duma was attributed legislative rights. ‘Statute on election to the State Duma’ and election law of 11 December, 1905 defined the objectives and terms of Duma functioning and the order of its members election.
The State Duma was in charge of preparation and preliminary consideration of bills; examination of state revenues and costs along with financial estimates of ministries and chief departments; cases on disposal of properties and a part of state income, on construction of public railways, on establishment of companies on shares; cases submitted for consideration by imperial orders; estimates and apportionment of Zemstvo duties. The State Duma could make inquires to ministers regarding the acts that it considered illegal.
The State Duma was elected for 5 years term. But it could be dissolved by the emperor before the end of this period. The emperor could also appoint new elections and the time of convocation. Women, the military and the urban poor were deprived of the elective right. The elections were held in accordance with curia system. With this objective four curia were created: of landowners; urban; of workers and of peasants. During the elections of February – March 1906 the most successful was the Constitutional and Democratic Party (of cadets). On 10 May (O.S. 27 April), 1906 a state reception for the deputies of the First State Duma of the Russian Empire was held in St. George's Hall of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. After the welcoming address of Emperor Nicholas II the deputies went to Tauride Palace which became their work residence. Cadet S. A. Muromtsev was elected the Duma’s chairman.
The first Russian State Duma of the Russian Empire had functioned for 72 days. The central issue was agrarian problem: deputies proposed several projects but all of them were rejected by the Ministers Council as ‘inadmissible’.
On the whole within 2,5 months of work Duma had accepted 391 inquiries regarding illegal actions of government and approved two bills: on death penalty abolishment (it was initiated by the deputies) and on allocation of 15 million rubles to those having suffered from bad harvest (submitted by the government). On 8 July, 1906 the government decided to dissolve the Duma and organize new elections.
Within 11 years there had been elected four State Duma’s convocations. On 19 October (O.S. 6 October), 1917 the State Duma of the fourth convocation was dissolved by the Provisional government due to the establishment of 25 November (O.S. 12 November) the date of the election to the Constituent Assembly on and the beginning of election campaign.
© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 10 May, 2016