Elections to the Constituent Assembly began

25 November 1917

On November 12 (25) 1917 were launched elections to the Constituent Assembly — a representative institution founded on the basis of universal suffrage in order to establish the form of the government and work out the Constitution of Russia.

After the February revolution of 1917 calling of the Constituent Assembly was officially recognized as the main task pursued by the Provisional Government. In March the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet set up a committee on Constituent Assembly.

Preparatory work for the elections involved all existing parties, associations, and unions of that time. There was published a great number of different literature, posters, leaflets centered around the Constituent Assembly. Lectures were conducted to acquaint the public with programs of the parties, their slogans and goals.

Work over the draft of the Statute of Elections to the All-Russian Constituent Assembly was completed in August 1917. That statute was the most democratic for that time. It provided an active and a passive right to vote to all the citizens of the country aged 20+ and servicemen over the age of 18. The right to vote was also guaranteed to women. In 1917 it was only in Norway, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Australia and a number of states of America where women had a right to take part in elections.

Under the statute of elections, the whole country was divided into electoral districts (constituencies), each of them received an electoral quota which was proportionate to the population — one deputy from 200 thousand citizens. Siberia was granted an advantage: one deputy from 179 thousand people. The principle of proportionality was used not only to determine the deputy quota for districts, but also to summarize the results of elections. A proportional representation system for elections to the Constituent Assembly was borrowed from Belgium. The main feature of this system consisted in the fact that it provided representation in governmental bodies not only of the majority but also the minority of the population. In small-populated regions were formed 12 districts, and elections were conducted based on the plurality voting system (majority representation system).

Elections to the All-Russian Constituent Assembly started on November 12 (25) 1917 and were being held for 3 days — November 12 (25), 13 (26), 14 (27). However in a number of districts they were put off to December and even to January. This was mainly due to technical and organizational reasons.

In the voting, according to 67 electoral districts, took part 44 433 309 people. The results of the elections vary in different sources. Votes received by the Socialist-Revolutionary Party (SRs, Esers) (right and left) in Russia’s regions ranged from 39,5 % to 45,5 %. Taking into account SRs and close associations of national regions this percentage rose up to 58 %. In the second place were the Bolsheviks with votes varying from 22,5 % to 25 %. The biggest success the party of Bolsheviks achieved during elections in two capitals and industrial provinces (in Petrograd — 45 % vs. 16 % of SRs, while in Moscow — 56 % vs. 25 %).

The Mensheviks got only from 1,8 % - 3,2 % votes. Taking into account political organizations of Russian and national regions close to the Mensheviks this percentage went up to 4,7 %. The Constitutional Democratic Party (Constitutional Democrats, Kadets) at the elections to the Constituent Assembly were given from 4,5 % to 5,6 % votes. All right political organizations of Russian and national regions together with Kadets had the support ranging from 13 % to 17 % votes.

On January 5 (18) 1918 in Petrograd in the Tauride Palace was held the meeting of the Constituent Assembly. It brought together 410 deputies, V.M. Chernov was elected the Chairman. The majority was represented by SRs-centrists; the Bolsheviks and left SRs equaled 155 people (38,5 %). The Constituent Assembly refused to accept the ultimatum of the Bolsheviks which consisted in recognition of decrees of Soviets’ Congresses and was disbanded at 5 a.m. on January 6 (19). On the night of January 7 (20) the Central Executive Committee adopted a decree on the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly.

Lit.: Вейгман С. Выборы 1917 г. // Столичные новости. № 11 (207). 26 марта — 1 апреля, 2002; Знаменский О. Революция и Учредительное Собрание // Октябрь 1917: величайшее событие века или социальная катастрофа. М., 1991. С. 198—199; Знаменский О. Учредительное собрание. М., 1978; Первые выборы в Учредительное собрание // Русское Слово. № 248. С. 1, 1-2 пол. 12 ноября 1917 г.; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://www.bogorodsk-noginsk.ru/vlasty/russkoe-slovo-1917-248.html; Протасов Л. Г. Всероссийское Учредительное собрание. История рождения и гибели. М., 1997; Учредительное собрание и российская действительность, или история несостоявшейся встречи [Электронный ресурс] // История России. Б. д. URL: http://historysibsuti.narod.ru/ys7.htm; Учредительное собрание [Электронный ресурс] // История в историях. Б. д. URL: http://wordweb.ru/hist_gos/03_04.htm; Учредительное собрание [Электронный ресурс] // Энциклопедия Санкт-Петербурга. Б. д. URL: http://www.encspb.ru/article.php?kod=2804022934.

Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

All-Russian Constituent Assembly: [digital collection];

The last Russian emperor Nikolai II abdicated the crown 95 years ago // On this day. 15 March 1917;

Constitutional Democratic Party was founded in Moscow // On this day. 25 October 1905;

The Second All-Russian Soviet congress completed its work // On this day. 09 November 1917.