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Duma

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For other uses, see Duma (disambiguation).

A Duma (Ду́ма in Russian) is any of various representative assemblies in modern Russia and Russian history. The State Duma in the Russian Empire and Russian Federation corresponds to the lower house of the parliament. It is also the term for a council to early Russian rulers (Boyar Duma), as well as for city councils in Imperial Russia (City Duma).

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Duma in early Russian history

The term comes from the Russian word думать (dumat), "to think". Boyar Duma was an advisory council to the grand princes and tsars of Muscovy. It was composed of all nobles having the rank of boyar. The Duma was discontinued by Peter the Great, who transferred its functions to the Governing Senate in 1711.

State Duma in Imperial Russia

Under the pressure of the Russian Revolution of 1905, Tsar Nicholas II issued the October Manifesto, which announced the basic human freedoms, including the freedom of assembly, and provided for the formation of the State Duma. Though Russia was an empire, rather than a democracy, the State Duma is sometimes formally compared to the lower house of a parliament (the State Council being compared to the upper house).

However, Nicholas II was determined to retain his autocratic power. Just before the creation of Duma in May 1906, the Tsar issued the Fundamental Laws that contradicted the October Manifesto in several important ways. It stated in part that Tsar's ministers could not be appointed by and were not responsible to the Duma, thus denying representative government at the executive level. Furthermore, the Tsar has the power to dismiss the Duma and announce new elections whenever he wishes.

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Tauride_duma.jpg
Pre-revolutionary Duma met in the Tauride Palace, St Petersburg

Election for the First Duma, which opened in July 1906, returned a significant bloc of moderate socialists and both liberal parties who demanded further reforms. It was dissolved within ten weeks.

The Second Duma in February 1907 was equally short-lived. Using emergency power, Prime Minister Petr Stolypin changed the electoral law and gave greater electoral value to the votes of nobility and landowners. This ensured the Third Duma would be dominated by gentry, landowners and businessmen.

Between 1907 and 1912, the Octobrist-dominated Third Duma ran its course. Being more oriented towards conservative positions, it was able to last its full five-years term. The assassination of Stolypin and increasingly reactionary policies of the Tsar and his State Council further weakened the significance of the Third Duma.

The Fourth Duma of 1912–1917 was also of limited political influence; however, it played a role in the events of 1917, partly cooperating with the provisional government. It was dissolved in the course of the Russian revolution.

State Duma in modern Russia

The State Duma (Russian: Государственная дума (Gosudarstvennaya Duma), common abbreviation: Госдума (Gosduma)) in the Russian Federation is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia (parliament), the upper house being the Federation Council of Russia. Under Russia's 1993 constitution, there are 450 deputies of the State Duma (Article 95), each elected to a term of four years (Article 96). One half of the deputies are elected by a system of proportional representation and one half are elected by plurality in single member districts. Russian citizens at least 21 years old are eligible to run for the Duma (Article 97).

Related article

eo:Dumao et:Duuma fr:Douma it:Duma nl:Doema pl:Duma fi:Duuma ro:Duma ru:Государственная Дума Росcийской Империи

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