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Dual Power

February Revolution, Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, Tauride Palace
Petrograd Soviet

On 27 February a large crowd came to the Tauride Palace - the seat of the Duma - looking for political leaders. Following the precedent of 1905, a Petrograd Soviet of workers' and soldiers' deputies was elected. They passed Order Number 1, a list of the soldiers' demands and conditions for their return to the garrisons, including a declaration that they would recognize only the authority of the Petrograd Soviet.

The majority of the Soviet leaders had no intention of taking power. They wanted the Duma leaders to form a government in line with their socialist belief that in a backward peasant country such as Russia there would have to be a 'bourgeois-democratic revolution' before the transition to a socialist order: what was needed now was freedom for the masses to organize themselves politically.

The Duma leaders were initially reluctant to place themselves at the head of a revolutionary government. But they were concerned to stop the fighting in the streets descending into anarchy. On 1 March they agreed to form a Provisional Government. The Soviet would support it as long as it adhered to a comprehensive list of democratic principles. This dual power framework was to paralyse the Provisional Government: it could do nothing without the support of the Soviet.

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