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To What Extent was The Tsarist System of Government Modified in the years 1881-1914?
1)P: Some historians argue that the Tsarist system of government was modified by the
repressive reforms introduced in Alexander 3rd manifesto published in 1881 which reasserted
the autocratic nature of Russia which can be seen to limit the powers of the people.
E: For example, he reduced the power of the zemstva and significantly cut the proportion of
the population that could vote, for example only 0.7% of the population of Moscow and St
Petersburg were aloud to vote.
E: This illustrates the lack of political power extended to the people of Russia, as such a
small proportion of the population had any say in government and even then their opinions
had little impact.
L: Therefore, Russia can be seen to have moved away from the reformist policies introduced
by Alexander 2nd in the years leading to 1881 and modified by the extremely repressive
policies introduced by Alexander 3rd, in response the assassination of his father by the
2) P: However, it can be seen that Russia was moved away from these repressive reforms
and modified in a different nature by the actions of Nicholas 2nd after the 1905 revolution.
E: For example, to appease the liberals he introduced the October manifesto which
promised civil rights, freedom of speech and universal suffrage.
E: This was initially seen as a step forward to extending the powers of the Tsar to the
L: This therefore creates the impression that the Government of Russia was further
changed, this time moving in a more liberal direction to suit the needs of the people.
P: However, in 1906, Nicholas 2nd introduced the repressive fundamental laws, which
undermined the reformist nature of the October manifesto and reasserted his right to
govern by decree, thereby ignoring parliament.
E: Therefore we can see that little was changed in the government of Russia in the long
term, as the Tsar still maintained extreme autocratic power.
3)P: Another way in which we can see the Tsarist government was modified is in the
changing nature of the dumas. With the October manifesto, promised the creation of the
Duma which gave the impression that the Tsarist regime was moving in a more liberal
direction to allow opposition parties a say in government.
E: For example, the first and second dumas were dominated left wing reformist parties, such
as the Kadets and Social Revolutionaries
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E: However, due to their constant criticisim of the regime the Tsar dissolved the dumas to
limit the power of his oppisiton. Through the fundamental laws, the Tsar established a bi
cameral system which meant that the final decision of any bill passed had to be approved by
the Tsar before it was passed. Furthermore, his power over the dumas ensured the next two
were dominated by right-wing Tsarist supporters.…read more