How far was the provisional government responsible for its own downfall?
During the brief period of rule by The Provisional Government, Russia was troubled by several domestic issues that the provisional Government failed to sufficiently deal with when eventually led to their down fall in 1917. Their failure to fulfil the needs of the peasants, which was a big domestic issue, was a factor that led to their loss of support and in addition their failure to suppress the opposition led to their downfall. The instantaneous cause for their collapse was the fierce take over from the Bolsheviks led by Lenin.
However the main factors that led to their downfall was their decision to continue in the war because it has worsened the issues that The Provisional Government failed to tackle which then led to loss of support from the bulk of the population and more importantly the army which they relied upon to defend The Provisional Government such as the July Days. In addition their decision to delay the elections gave the Bolsheviks a chance to take power. As a result, Lenin and the Bolsheviks were able to increase their support rapidly and take over so therefore The Provisional Government can be largely held responsible for their own downfall.
Russia’s continuation in the war after the abdication of the tsar was the main reason for the down fall of The Provisional Government because it increased the issues that Russia faced already which worsened their respect and support as it was their decision to do so. As a result of this, they lost support of the army because they were losing in the war as they lost territory, soldiers and unprepared to go to battle. This decreased the soldier’s moral which eventually led to the breakdown of military discipline.
This eventually led to radical parties having an increase of support because they were against the continuation of the war such as the Bolsheviks because they promised to end Russia’s involvement in the war. In addition, the continuation of the war meant that the issue of food shortages caused unrest amongst the population towards The Provisional Government.
The Provisional Government also had little control over the countryside and also lacked the ability to impose their authority in its outside cities and towns. As a result the peasants took action which therefore undermined The Provisional Governments authority. Many peasants took land from landowner’s whilst some engaged in violence. The Provisional Government was losing its authority in parts of Russia. The main reason for the lack of control was because The provisional Government lacked in legitimacy and due to this the public turned away and went to more radical parties such as the Bolsheviks. The peasants turned to the Bolsheviks because in the April Thesis, Lenin promised to address the land issue which The Provisional Government failed to do. And due to his, The Provisional Government support decreased and Bolsheviks support increased.
The authority of The Provisional Government significantly weakened in June when they launched an attack on the Austro-Hungarian army. This was a utter failure and led to the breakdown of the Russian army. The soldiers leaving the front lines met and formed an Anti-Government rally in which they demanded all political power should be handed to the soviets. Furthermore other troops formed a Provisional Revolutionary Committee to campaign against the government. In addition only the government can be blamed for the events of the “July Days” because it was them who’s idea it was of the June offensive and therefore as a result, the July Days. By August 1917 Russia seemed on the verge of chaos because peasants were seizing land, industrial production was failing and soldiers were rebelling. Although the Provisional Government had survived, the demonstrations of the July Days brought a fatal blow to the position of The Provisional Government.
Kornilov had feared a “coup d’état” and released imprisoned Bolsheviks and armed them to help the government. This was a blow as Bolsheviks membership increased and now they were given weapons, they did not give them back. The Kornilov Affair made the Bolsheviks look like the “defenders of Petrograd” so their numbers increased. As a result of The Provisional Government continuing in the war, opposition towards them grew. They also failed to suppress the opposition which led to opposition (Bolshevik) increase support. The Provisional Government also failed to meet the demands of the public so therefore making them turn to more extreme parties. The Bolsheviks were the biggest threat to the government because of their popularity, aims, guidance and methods.
Overall, although The provisional Government had face many problems, it was the Bolsheviks that caused the eventual downfall of the government. It is not wholly The Provisional Governments fault for their own downfall because some of the problems they had inherited and as soon as they came into power they were already un-liked despite them playing a major part in it. The country side was already in chaos so that was not their fault and the April Thesis, Lenin’s speech, they could not be held responsible for that either. On the other hand, The Kornilov Affair, The June Offensive and the domestic issues were their fault as they did not address the issue leading to the radicalisation of the public. The Provisional Government did have a huge part to play in their own downfall because of their decision t continue in the war which enhanced/intensified the present issues.