This article is the first detailed examination of the relationship between the political parties of the ‘broad centrist coalition’ and the first Provisional Government. It challenges the historiography that issues from P. N. Miliukov and A. I. Guchkov that the Provisional Government could not rule because of dual power, in which the executive lacked any support and was a prisoner of the Petrograd Soviet. The evidence presented here demonstrates that the policy of support for the Provisional Government ‘in so far as … ’ the executive pursued a progressive programme was (a) quite common at the time and (b) did not exclude recognition of the Provisional Government as the legitimate and sole power. The article details the range of interaction between the political parties and the Provisional Government, focusing on the ways in which the parties promoted the Provisional Government and acted as a critical friend over policy. Finally, the article argues that in this early period the parties changed from having no influence over the formation of the Provisional Government to being key players in the outcome of the first reshuffle of the executive following Guchkov’s resignation, which marked the triumph of a more left policy backed by existing ministers and the political parties.
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For helpful comments on previous versions of this article thanks are due to the editors and to an anonymous reader, and to Murray Frame, Steve Smith, Rex A. Wade and James D. White.
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- Russian Revolution 1917
- Provisional Government 1917