The Kadets

The Kadets, or the ‘Constitutional Democrats’ / ‘Party of the People’s Freedom’, was a liberal political party created in Russia after the legalization of political groups in 1905. They were the largest of Russia’s liberal groups, and wanted the existing Tsarist autocracy modified into a full constitutional monarchy in which the ruling Tsar would be restricted by an elected assembly. The Kadets believed this structure would solve many of Russia’s problems, social and economic, as well as be much needed political reform.

Because the Kadets were divided over the social issues facing Russia, they focused on political reform, although they lacked the skills for dealing with party politics.

Kadets were normally members of the liberal ‘intelligensia’ of Russia, including small scale businessmen, professionals, academics and liberal landholders, including a large proportion of zemstov men. Roughly 60% were noble. The Kadets were elected to the Russian Duma in the 1906s, and proved the most vociferous critics of the Tsar. However, after the first Duma was dissolved, leading Kadets signed the Vyborg Manifesto calling for a revolt against the government via the non payment of tax and a refusal to serve in the army. Over 100 Kadets were arrested and banned from the Duma, and their replacements were less able and less keen on supporting the revolutionary demands of the people. The party became ever more focused on the ‘middle class’, such as it was in Russia.

The Kadets were initially involved in the leadership of the nation in the Revolution of 1917, but lost power to the Bolsheviks in 1917 and eliminated as class enemies of the newly ruling party.

The name ‘Kadet’ drives from the initials of their name when written in Russian.