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Why Were the Bolsheviks Successful in establishing their authority over Russia in the Years after 1917 The initial triumph of the Bolsheviks in October 1917 did not indicate overwhelming support for the Bolsheviks On the contrary as Orlando Figes indicates in A Peoples Tragedy few people believed in its second week that the Bolshevik regime could survive The fact that it did survive and was able not only to establish its authority fully in those areas it controlled in 1917 but to extend that authority over the whole of the former Tsarist empire was largely the result of the ability and ruthlessness of Bolshevik leaders the division and failure of their opponents and perhaps the sheer confusion of the time As far as the Bolsheviks were concerned the revolution was over As far as Lenin was concerned he was in power The Russian State however was in a state of decomposition Numerous Bolsheviks began to speak of elections for a Constituent Assembly Lenin had no use for a parliament regardless of whether it was elected democratically or not He considered it inferior to the Soviets of which the Petrograd Soviet under the leadership of Leon Trotsky was the model But now immediately after the October Revolution Lenin was compelled to hold elections On November 25 1917 the Russian people held the first free election in the nations 900-year history When the vote was over the Bolsheviks had only received one quarter of the votethe other socialist parties mainly the SRs polled 62 of the vote Bolshevik support was heaviest in the cities especially Moscow and Petrograd while the SR vote was largely rural Lenin accepted these figures as accurate However he also maintained that the most advanced elements had voted for him and the Bolsheviks The Constituent Assembly met only once in January 1918 Lenin dissolved it by issuing his DRAFT DECREE and sent heavily armed guards to prevent its meeting again Those
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