Draft Decree On The Right Of Recall

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 19 November 1917

In the Minutes of the Central Executive Committee of Soviets of Workers’, soldiers’, Peasants’ and Cossack,’ Deputies, second Convocation, Moscow, 1918
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 336-337

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.

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.