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Draft Decree On The Right Of Recall

"It would be betraying democracy and abdicating the basic principles and tasks of the socialist revolution, which has begun in Russia, to refuse, on that ground, to practise the right of recall, or to hamper or restrict its exercise in any way."

No elective institution or representative assembly can be regarded as being truly democratic and really representative of the people’s will unless the electors’ right to recall those elected is accepted and exercised. This fundamental principle of true democracy applies to all representative assemblies without exception, including the Constituent Assembly.

Because the system of proportional representation is more democratic than the majority system, it demands more complex measures for the exercise of the right of recall, that is, the actual subordination of the elected to the people. But it would be betraying democracy and abdicating the basic principles and tasks of the socialist revolution, which has begun in Russia, to refuse, on that ground, to practise the right of recall, or to hamper or restrict its exercise in any way. What proportional representation demands is not a curtailment of the right of recall but a mere change of form.

Since the system of proportional representation is based on acceptance of the party system and the conduct of elections by organised parties, any major change in the balance of class forces and the relation of classes to parties, especially in the event of splits within major parties, necessarily produces the need for a re-election in any electoral district where there is a clear and obvious discrepancy between the will of the various classes and their strength, on the one hand, and the party composition of those elected, on the other. True democracy makes it imperative that the appointment of re-elections should not depend only on the institution to be re-elected, that is, that the desire on the part of those elected to retain their seats should not work against the exercise of the people’s will to recall its representatives.

In view of this, the All-Russia Central Executive Committee of the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies, resolves:

The Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies and the Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies of each electoral district shall have the right to appoint re-elections to all city, Zemstvo and all other representative institutions in general, not excluding the Constituent Assembly. The Soviets shall also have the right to set the date for the re-elections, which shall be held in the usual manner, in strict conformity with the principles of the system of proportional representation.

Footnotes

[1] Placed before the All—Russia Central Executive Committee on November 21 (December 4), 1917, by the Bolshevik group. The need for such a decree was substantiated by Lenin (see pp. 338-40). The right of recall was in principle upheld by a majority of the Committee; two members voted against, arid one abstained. The draft was referred to a Co-ordinating Committee with the participation of Left Socialist-Revolutionaries. It introduced amendments to Lenin's draft, in which the right to appoint elections was vested in congresses of Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' amid Peasants Deputies (instead of the Soviets themselves), while the Soviets were empowered to appoint elections upon the demand of more than half the electorate in a given electoral district. The draft worked out by the Co-ordinating Committee was unanimously adopted by the All-Russia Central Executive Committee and published in Invests No. 233 on November 23 (December 6).

Under it, several peasants' and army congresses passed decisions recalling deputies from the Constituent Assembly. They were Cadets, Right Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks. including Avksemrtyev, Gots, Milyukov, and others.

 

Source: Marxist Internet Archive.

23.02.1917
The February Revolution
Strikes and protests erupt on women's day in Petrograd and develop into a mass movement involving hundreds of thousands of workers; within 5 days the workers win over the army and bring down the hated and seemingly omnipotent Tsarist Monarchy.
16.04.1917
Lenin Returns
Lenin returns to Russia and presents his ‘April Theses’ denouncing the Bourgeois Provisional Government and calling for “All Power to the Soviets!”
18.06.1917
The June Days
Following the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets, the reformist leaders called a demonstration to show the strength of "democracy". 400,000 people attended, the vast majority carried banners with Bolshevik slogans.
16.07.1917
The July Days
Spontaneous, armed demonstrations against the Provisional Government erupt in Petrograd. The workers and soldiers are suppressed by force, introducing a period of reaction and making the peaceful development of the revolution impossible.
9.09.1917
The Kornilov Affair
Following the July days, the Bolsheviks were driven underground and the forces of reaction were emboldened. This process culminated in the reactionary forces coalescing around General Kornilov, who attempt to march on Petrograd and crush the revolutionary movement in its entirety.
26.10.1917
The October Revolution
The Provisional Government is overthrown. State power passes to the Soviets on the morningm of 26th October, after the Bolsheviks’ Military Revolutionary Committee seize the city and the cabinet surrenders.
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