Weaknesses of the Provisional Government

The establishment of the Provisional Government

Bearded man in three-piece suit wearing hat and carrying briefcase
Prince Lvov

The Provisional Government was formed on March 1, 1917. It was meant to be a temporary body that would govern Russia in place of the Tsar until elections could be held.

Unlike the Petrograd Soviet, the provisional government was unelected. Many saw it as a dictatorial body of upper class citizens - Prince Lvov was its Prime Minister.

Elections were delayed and the Provisional Government was in power until later that year.

The Provisional Government took major decisions - Russia continued its military action in World War One and land reforms were postponed. Both rulings greatly affected the Russian people. This made the government increasingly unpopular and provided ammunition for revolutionaries, who called for its dissolution.

The establishment of the Soviets

The Soviets were councils elected by workers, soldiers and sailors:

After the February Revolution, the first Soviet appeared in Petrograd. Soon Soviets had been elected in Moscow and other cities.

They were usually chaotic, rowdy, and disorganised. But they were elected - unlike the Provisional Government.

Lenin declared "All power to the Soviets", implying that the Soviets should govern Russia in place of the Provisional Government. This became an extremely effective Bolshevik rallying cry.

Large room full of men, some uniformed, with attention focussed on a speaker's podium
Petrograd Soviet in session

Dual power

The existence of both the Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet meant that power was shared. The Petrograd Soviet accepted that the Provisional Government would make decisions for Russia until elections could be held.

The existence of two political bodies increased the potential for political disagreement. This was especially the case as the two bodies held very different views.

The Provisional Government consisted mainly of Octoberists and Kadets. They only wanted moderate changes to the government of Russia.

Tthe Petrograd Soviet was made up of Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks. They wanted to give power to the working classes.