How Far Was the Provisional Government Responsible?
S13hsm 2 Joe Pendlebury How far was the Provisional Government responsible for its own downfall? There are many factors which were responsible for the Provisional government’s downfall. Some are more important than others because they had more impact on the downfall. The War, the distribution of land and the people in the provisional government all contributed to the downfall of the provisional government. They each had different amounts of impact. The Provisional Government had a programme initially designed to create a better Russia.
The main aims of this government were to abolish Tsarist governors and hold elections based on a universal adult franchise. However, the members that made up the provisional government were from the Duma of masters, priests, and lackeys. This meant that, because of the weighted elections, it was not representative of the population, and therefore lacked legitimacy. They had little support from the working class because it was dominated by the Liberals; members of the elite.
The government also lacked control because of the dual authority with the Petrograd Soviet, who issued the Soviet Order Number One which directly challenged the Provisional Government. All ideas had to be agreed by the Petrograd Soviet, specifically to do with the military. In the Second Provisional government (the first coalition), the composition had become more left-wing, with Kerensky (a social Revolutionary) as president. Although this could be argued that this would have happened naturally, because the majority of the population were peasants, it definitely contributed to the downfall of the Provisional Government.
The decision to stay in the war was largely responsible for the Provisional Governments downfall. Arguably they were restricted and had to stay in the war, due to having to keep strong relations with Britain and France that funding was continued, and making sure Russia was defended. However this caused huge shortages in coal and food which led to unemployment and discontent. Furthermore after deciding to lead a defensive war, the Brusilov offensive occurred in June. This was an offensive attack launched against Austria-Hungry. Due to this loss, many men died.
This resulted in wide spread desertion, which increased when the Bolsheviks encouraged men to stop fighting. Following the desertions and the failure, this caused mass uprising and seizure of land in the countryside. This was the PG’s downfall as they lost the support of the largest social group in Russia. The land issue was a key feature in the downfall of the provisional government. Their decision to defer solving this problem until a constitutional assembly had been elected this left the peasants extremely dissatisfied and they continued to seize land.
The provisional government’s hands were tied because they did not have a loyal military force to send in and stop the peasants taking land. This was worsened by the fact that most of the soldiers sent to disrupt this from happening were peasant conscripts who also took land for themselves. A further problem was desertion from the front as more peasants went back to secure land for them before it was too late. Due to so much land being procured by the peasants farming and crops took a back seat, eventually creating food shortages creating even more pressure upon the provisional government to do something about the land situation.
However they didn’t, creating more hatred towards them making revolution more of a threat. The Bolsheviks were responsible for the provisional Governments own downfall to a small extent. For example during the Kornilov affair, the provisional government were left with little other choice than trusting and arming the Bolsheviks. This decision contributes to their downfall as the Bolsheviks had hidden ulterior motives (they intended to use their government funded arms to overthrow the government itself in the future. However, the Bolsheviks did other things that were out of the governments control and that lead to its downfall.
This includes the growing influence they gained within the Soviets of Russia. This was created by volunteering themselves for the unpopular jobs that nobody else wanted to do, this gave them a disproportionate influence meaning there influence was greater than their numbers and audience would have suggested. There influence was also helped by the irregular attendance of other parties. Because of the way the soviet system was set up and the lack of control this gave the provisional government, they had little control over what the Bolsheviks did.
And even though the government helped them by rewarding them with the “Red Guard” this was only the final straw of an uprising they could not stop. Overall I think the government was responsible for its own downfall considering the decisions and actions it took. They decided to stay in the war and change their plan. They did have to stay in the war due to many reasons but it was their choice. But also they made an agreement with the Petrograd Soviet so they actually didn’t actually have much power so it is really the provisional governments own fault for there downfall.