Why did the February Revolution in 1917 ultimately fail? What were the consequences for Russia of the failure of Kerensky’s Provisional Government? (15 Marks)

Mentors Comment:

  • The question is quite straightforward and you may not have a problem in attempting it.
  • Start with introducing Feb Revolution and what changes it bought. 
  • Then in the first part of the answer, discuss why the provisional government, established after Feb Revolution, failed. WW1, Land, Bread, and Peace were the major factors.
  • After here, discuss the impact of this failure of the Feb Revolution on Russia. The failure of the Feb Revolution resulted in Russia getting Lenin its leader; Russia went out of WW1 and through a treaty with Germany, ceded many territories; the first full communist government of the world was created; the birth of USSR; new ideas of economics and politics came into prominence, etc.


Russia at the beginning of the 20th century was ruled by Czar, Nicholas II. He was an autocrat & his policies were not popular among masses. The Russian Revolution was a series of revolutions in the early 20th century that ultimately resulted in the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II and the establishment of a communist government or Kerensky’s Provisional Government through the February Revolution of 1917. But in October the same year, the Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Provisional Government and established a communist in the October Revolution. Hence the February Revolution failed.

Reasons for the failure of the February Revolution:

  • The February Revolution ultimately failed due to the nature of the Provisional Government
  • As one of its goals, the policies of the Provisional Government regarding the key issues of bread, land and peace were unsuccessful  
  • These issues were not resolvable in the short term 
  • Provisional Government was a coalition of parties who wanted different things: Kadets with their advocation of a constitutional democracy and the Mensheviks who wanted a temporary capitalist government
  • Provisional Government often withheld decisions so that the new government could make them, making them even weaker
  • The Provisional Government failed to recognize the need for peace and thus did not prioritize the withdrawal from the world war, and there was a naval mutiny
  • The government was too focused on the war, and the economic and social problems began to worsen
  • World War had affected the Provisional Government negatively, inflation and hunger soared
  • There was anarchy in the countryside as peasants started taking nobles’ land and the government used militaristic means to take it back.
  • The Provisional Government allowed freedom of speech and the press which gave way to the July Days and Lenin’s April Theses which advocated for peace, land, bread and Soviet Power 
  • Bread Rationing was very unpopular among the masses.
  • On the other hand, Bolsheviks championed the idea of peace and gained many supporters eventually because of this October revolution happened.
  • During October 1917, the Provisional Government was removed and replaced with a Bolshevik government in Russia which led to the formation of the USSR. 
  • This was the October revolution which got over in a matter of hours. Kerensky and his colleagues disappeared from the scene.

Consequences for Russia as a result of the failure of Kerensky’s Provisional Government

  • The main result of the failure of the Provisional Government is the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks in October 1917.
  • Lenin returned to Russia from his exile in Switzerland and denounced the new government and wished to break off support
  • The government lost all support due to its ineffectiveness. This gave way for a new party to gain power 
  • Victory of communist philosophy & marxian ideology which first time brought working class into power.
  • In March 1918 Russia and Germany signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Via this treaty, Russia surrendered a large chunk of its territory to Germany and its allies.
  • As a result of this, eventually, Russia had been transformed greatly
  • The humiliating terms of this treaty triggered widespread anger and objection to the policies of the Bolsheviks. It led to civil war in Russia between 1918 to 1921.

Failures of the February Revolution had a significant impact on World History as it led to the first success of the Communist philosophy which was later adopted by China and Vietnam. Even in India, Bhagat Singh was deeply inspired by Lenin and the practical implementation of Karl Marx’s philosophy. It generated a new way of thinking about the economy, society, and the government. Still, the revolution marked the end of a dynasty that had lasted 300 years and concluded with the seizure of power by a small revolutionary group. 


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