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Postiinperial settlements

The logic and contradictions of imperial parliamentarism persisted during the postimperial settlements. On the one hand, there were attempts to constitute inclusion-ary Russian and Chinese postimperial civic nations, which would include not only the titular groups but also other groups of the former empire. Both the projected Russian federative republic and the Chinese Republic of “Five Races under One Union” were to have inclusionary parliaments. At the same time, the discussions of parliamentarism also continued as part of particularistic, exclusionary national projects, and the use of vernacular terminology very much reflected that.

The events at the turn of 1911 to 1912 - that is the Xinhai Revolution and the replacement of the Qing Empire by the Republic of China - meant an at least nominal transition from monarchical to popular sovereignty. Prima vista, the founding constitutional texts of the Republic of China seem to reveal this momentous shift of focus. While Article 1 of the Imperial Outline of a Constitution, adapted from the Japanese Constitution of 1889, had declared that the Empire was to be governed by the Emperor in “one dynastic line for ages eternal.”92 Article 2 of the Republic’s first Provisional Constitution, promulgated on March 11, 1912, declared that "the sovereignty of the Republic of China is vested in the entirety of the nation.”93

The establishment of the republic was accompanied by a rough exercise in a more democratic form of government. In theory, the political structure laid down in the Provisional Constitution as well as in the Law on the Organization of the National Assembly of August 10, 1912, conferred a paramount importance to the bicameral National Assembly (Guominyihui [Ü KsM#", short Guohui ®#■): next to its attribution of passing legislation, it was also entrusted with drafting a permanent constitution for the Republic, and furthermore it elected the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister as the head of the Cabinet.94

The election to the National Assembly at the turn of 1912-1913 was not only the first one to be ever held in China at a national level, but also drew from a massively enlargened basis of voters of more than 40 million people.95 Whereas suffrage for the 1909 provincial elections had stood at 0.39 percent of the population,96 it had increased to more than 10 percent of China’s population of roughly 400 million inhabitants in 1912. Next to letting much broader sections of society participate in the political process, it also continued and deepened the shy attempts of the Qing Empire at parliamentarization of the imperial situation. While the Qing had merely integrated the vast non-Han regions of the Empire into the upcoming parliamentary system via upper-house indication, the Republic insisted on having these regions represented in the lower house as well.

However, at the same time, these elements of democratization and increased participation of the masses in politics, as well as of greater national integration, also had clear limits both in the political realities and in the intellectual debates of the time. As to the integration of the non-Han regions into the new National Assembly, the 1912-1913 elections faced numerous difficulties and delays in Xinjiang97 and could not be carried out in Tibet and Outer Mongolia, which had separated themselves from the Republic of China. Tibetan and Outer Mongolian seats were filled from loyal Mongol and Tibetan communities in Beijing. Combined with the fact that the sparse population of these regions required overproportional delegate quotas, this led to the perception that the Republic was actually granting ethnic, not territorial, representation to Tibetans and Mongols, and to corresponding frictions with the officially sanctioned ideology of ethnic equality.98

The parliamentarization of the Chinese post-empire was celebrated by Russian socialists as a marker of global progress, even though they viewed parliamentarism not as a goal but merely as a means of achieving socialism. Commenting on the Xinhai Revolution and the developments in the Republic of China in 1912, Vladimir Il’ich Lenin, celebrated the awakening of the “four hundred million backward Asians” to political life and stressed the importance of the convocation of the Chinese parliament - “the first parliament in a former despotic country.”99 Returning to the issue in 1913, Lenin called the Chinese parliament “the first parliament of a great Asian country” and praised Sun Yat-sen’s MiiMlll Guomindang for bringing the broad masses of Chinese peasants into politics, which he described as “a great factor of progress of Asia and progress of humanity.”100

In the chaotic struggles of the early Republic, the elected National Assembly did not last for long. By November 1913, President Yuan Shikai iitOL effectively replaced the National Assembly with two other assemblies - a “Political Assembly” (Zhengzhi huiyi ¡E5c?h#bS, see Figure 1.2) and a “Constituent Assembly” (Yuefa huiyi see Figure 1.3). In 1914, Yuan officially disbanded the National

Assembly and had another provisional constitution approved.101 This Constitution, which provided for an extraordinarily strong position of the President, foresaw the establishment of a bicameral national assembly - styled “Legislative Yuan” (Lifayuan ÏLŸÈK) - and of a presidential Privy Council (Canzhengyuan see Egas Moniz Bandeira’s Chapter 5 in this volume). Proposed by the Japanese constitutional advisor Ariga Nagao W Hi® as the equivalent to the Japanese Privy Council (Sûmitsuin Rzg), only the latter institution convened at the time. Consisting of 50-70 delegates personally selected by Yuan, it was immediately decried as an instrument of Yuan’s monarchic ambitions and megalomany. While these accusations are not false, they do not depict the whole story, for Yuan’s

& s a

Zhengzhi huiyi quanti sheying [Group photo of the Political Assembly]. Dongfang zazhi 11, no. 2 (Minguo 3 [1914])

Figure 1.2 Zhengzhi huiyi quanti sheying [Group photo of the Political Assembly]. Dongfang zazhi 11, no. 2 (Minguo 3 [1914]).

constitutional design conformed to the recommendations given to him by advisors such as Ariga Nagao and Frank Johnson Goodnow. Hence, these institutions also reflected a current of contemporary constitutional scholarship which accorded a powerful position to the head of the executive, regardless of whether he be an emperor or a president.102

Yuan’s Canzhengyuan was disbanded after his death in 1916, while the original National Assembly convened again. A new National Assembly, elected in 1918,103 functioned comparatively smoothly for two years before it was disbanded again. By that time, the Beijing government had already lost control over much of the country and China was experiencing the beginning of a decade full of civil war and warlordism.104 The Beijing government’s parliament, while strong in theory, was subject to maneuverings by political strongmen. The old National Assembly was convened again, but its widespread corruption contributed to the disillusionment with parliamentarism and constitutional politics as such.105 When the Guomindang troops conquered Beijing in June 1928, effectively ending the Warlord Era, “China’s experiment with parliamentary politics was over.”106

The parliamentarization of the Russian postimperial space followed a somewhat similar trajectory of initial success and quick demise. It was the Duma which

Yuefa huiyi quanti sheying [Group photo of the Constituent Assembly]. Dongfang zazhi 11, no. 2 (Minguo 3 [1914])

Figure 1.3 Yuefa huiyi quanti sheying [Group photo of the Constituent Assembly]. Dongfang zazhi 11, no. 2 (Minguo 3 [1914]).

formed the Provisional Government during the Revolution of 1917, while a universally elected omnipotent parliament - the All-Russian Constituent Assembly - was supposed to resolve the Russian imperial crisis, which inter alia manifested in the disastrous First World War (1914-1918). At the same time, parallel to the institutions of the Provisional Government and the new zemstvo and municipal authorities, which were reformed on the basis of universal suffrage, the soviets (“councils”) reemerged (after their brief appearance in the Revolution of 1905— 1907) as the bodies of class self-government. Although this situation was frequently interpreted as “dual power,” some socialists and liberals in fact viewed the soviets as “legislative chambers of deputies” and the Petrograd Soviet as “a surrogate people’s duma,” which replaced the State Council in a two-house parliament of new Russia.107

The ideas of gradualism and what can be called “parliamentary tutelage,” however, were still articulated by some Russian liberals. In his pre-revolutionary work, which was published and discussed in 1917, Gessen rejected the notion of popular sovereignty. For him, the people were the source of legislative authority in a representative republic but were not seen as capable of exercising it due to the lack of a deliberate unity of wills. Legislative authority was exercised by the parliament on behalf of the people and in its interests, but the election of deputies was not a delegation of legislative competence, since the people did not have it in the first place. A citizen was a voter and not a lawmaker who adopted legislation through his or her representatives. According to Gessen, the parliament received its competence from the constitution and not from the people, but elections were still needed for the will of the parliament to correspond to popular interests. Gessen concluded that popular representation implied the incapacity of the people. In his view, a parliament was not and could not be a cliché of the popular masses; it organized and created the general will, turning the anarchy of circulating opinions into one.108

Moderate socialists did not share such a view on popular representation, with Mark Veniaminovich Vishniak, a legal scholar and a member of the SR Party, insisting that according to the idea of democracy (narodopravstvo), as initially formulated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, only the people were the source of public opinion, that is, of the will directed at the common good. A parliament, according to Vishniak, was only a secondary institution articulating but not creating popular will,109 which very much corresponded to Georg Jellinek’s interpretation of the people as the primaiy body and the parliament as the secondaiy body.110

Liberals and moderate socialists hence agreed that Russia needed a parliament, which could be uni- or bicameral. A possible second chamber, as discussed by a committee under the Provisional Government, could reflect decentralization and include the representatives of autonomous territories and local self-government bodies, as well as the representatives of the most important “organized social and cultural forces of the country,” such as representatives of trade and industry, cooperatives, trade unions, and academic institutions.111

The establishment of a Bolshevik-Left SR government, supposedly legitimized by the soviets, on October 25-26, 1917, however, reflected the growing popularity of leftist anti-parliamentarism. The new government allowed the convocation of the Constituent Assembly on January 5, 1918, but since the two radical parties did not have a majority there and did not find the assembly’s support, they disbanded it the very next day. With the expulsion of the Left SRs from the Soviet government, the Bolsheviks established a one-party autocracy. Indeed, they introduced a sham federation but opted for a complete and explicit opposition to parliamentarism in favor of an exclusionary class government.112 The Soviet non-parliamentary system, however, was formally abandoned in 1936 with the adoption of the new Soviet Constitution, which introduced a Soviet “parliament” - the Supreme Soviet (Verkhovnyi sovef) of two chambers113 (see Olga Velikanova’s Chapter 8 in this volume).

China experienced a similar departure from Western-style parliamentarism, yet following a different logic. In spite of the optimistic attempts at amplifying suffrage in 1912, the same republicans who had attacked the Qing for installing sham constitutionalism and for not adopting a constitution soon enough came to subscribe to similar positions, that is, that a full constitution could not be adopted at once, but only after a sufficiently long preparatory phase. Sun Yat-sen, who had been the first President of the Republic in 1912 and led the so-called Constitutional Protection Movement against the Beijing-based Beiyang government from 1917, came to conceptualize such a gradualist thinking in his 1924 “Outline of

National Construction” (Jianguo dagang Therein, he foresaw devel

opment in three stages, from a military government (jurcheng WIÍ) to a government of “tutelage for the people” (xunzheng ÿlliS) to, eventually, “constitutional government” (xianzheng SiS).114 A popularly elected Legislative Yuan was only foreseen for the last phase, and thus still away from a fractured China that was still considered to be in the first phase of military government. Effectively, thus, the parliament became the coronation rather than the main agent of the nation-building process of the Chinese Republic, not unlike it had been for the Qing Empire.

According to official ideology, the unification of most of China under the Guomindang in 1928 marked the transition from military government to the era of "tutelage,” which was to be exerted by the Guomindang. The subsequent revision of the Organic Law of the National Government of October 4, 1928, adopted Sun’s five-branch system of government and introduced the Legislative Yuan together with four other yuans. The new legislative body was only one element in the legislative process, since the adoption of a law required the joint countersignature of the presidents of all five yuans. The next revision of the Organic Law (November 24, 1930) elevated its status a bit by requiring only the President of the National Government to countersign law bills.115 However, the members of the Legislative Yuan continued to be unelected, being appointed instead by the National Government. In 1931, the Guomindang convoked a constituent assembly - called People’s Convention (Guoniin huiyi ® K^sM). Most of its delegates represented the territorial subdivisions of the Republic as well as overseas communities, but were elected by a number of legally registered organizations at the local level, giving the Guomindang the power to directly or indirectly control the Convention.116 The Provisional Constitution of the Political Tutelage Period, adopted by the People’s Convention in May 1931, consolidated the system laid out in the organic laws and the place of the Legislative Yuan in it. Hence, in the era of Guomindang-controlled “tutelage,” the party dominated both the establishment as well as the functioning of these institutions, and the Legislative Yuan remained a bureaucratic body.117 The result was a one-party regime similar to that in Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union. Furthermore, the 1931 Provisional Constitution can be seen as an early constitutional formalization of a one-party regime.

After the end of the Second World War, the Republic of China officially transitioned from “tutelage” to “constitutional” government, promulgating a new constitution in 1947 and convening the first popularly elected Legislative Yuan in 1948. Yet, China was amid a civil war which eventually forced the Guomindangled government to flee to Taiwan. While the victorious Communist Party established its own one-party regime, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference - China’s main parliamentary institution from 1949 to 1954 - sought to integrate other political currents and to create some continuity to the Republic (see Henrike Rudolph's Chapter 9 in this volume).

The postimperial settlements witnessed a number of further vernacular parliamentary developments, which followed the particularistic national projects after the two empires. The newly established sovereign Polish and Lithuanian republics, for instance, called their parliaments sejm. Many polities, however, did not succeed in retaining their autonomous or independent status. Here the examples of Ukrainian and Mongolian parliamentary formations were especially illustrative of the use of the concepts which had been relevant for larger imperial spaces before in political nation-building.

Diverse Ukrainian nationalists were among several postimperial groups which used the concept of rada. As a national institution, it emerged in the context of the Habsburg Empire during the Revolution of 1848-1849, when the Supreme Ruthenian Council {Holovna Rus’ka Rada) was formed.118 Mikhailo Hrushevs'kyi, a prominent Ukrainian historian and politician, contributed to the integration of the Cossack past, and hence its institutions, into a coherent narrative of democratic Ukraine.119 During the crisis of the Habsburg and Russian Empires, radas were being formed in both. On March 4, 1917, the Ukrainian Central Rada (Ukraïns’ka Tsentral’na Rada) was formed in Kyiv as the governing body of the anticipated Ukrainian autonomy in postimperial Russia. Although the body consisted of nominees rather than popularly elected deputies, it was occasionally called a parliament - and after its constitutionalization, the Ukrainian polity was supposed to have a universally elected one.120 The Ukrainian Central Rada, chaired by Hrushevs’kii, proclaimed the formation of the Ukrainian People’s Republic in November 1917, following the Bolshevik-Left SR coup in Petrograd and in anticipation if the All-Russian Constituent Assembly. When the latter was disbanded, the Ukrainian Central Rada declared Ukraine’s independence in January 1918. The Ukrainian National Rada (Ukraïns’ka Natsional’na Rada) became the supreme legislative body of the self-proclaimed independent Western Ukrainian People's Republic on the former Habsburg territory in October 1918.121 Radas as governing bodies were also formed by Kuban Cossack, Belarusian, and regional Ukrainian groups (for instance, in the Russian Far East).122

Mongolic-speaking politicians and intellectuals of the Russian and Qing Empires participated in constitutionalizing Outer Mongolia. There, the term khural was used for the new institutions. Following the declaration of independence in 1911, which in 1915 was internationally recognized as mere autonomy within the Republic of China, the Bogd Khan ordered the establishment of a bicameral consultative assembly - the State Khural ( Ulus-un khural). The Bogd Khan's decree on the establishment of the State Khural referred to the experience of the “powerful, rich, and cultured” states of the world, which had general assemblies of representatives, and stressed the need for deliberation and consideration of different opinions when resolving challenging and important issues.123 The fact that both chambers of the State Khural were appointed, while all decisions were to be approved by the Bogd Khan, led Pavel Dudin to conclude that the regime remained an absolute theocratic monarchy.124

The Buryat intellectual Tsyben Zhamtsarano participated in the debates on parliamentarism in Outer Mongolia. In his Ulus-un erke (“Power of the State”), Zhamtsarano presented a comparative study of political systems. He paid special attention to parliaments, their structures, and elections, as well as the relations between central and local authorities in most states, dominions (such as Australia and New Zealand), and parts of states (such as Finland or the states of the German Empire) with constitutions, probably using an available collection in Russian. Zhamtsarano used the word khural for parliaments. He interpreted their emergence from a progressive standpoint, explaining that the authorities had to adapt to changing times and gather representatives to establish khurals “to discuss problems, benefits, interests, income and expenditure, and many other matters” of the respective countries, as well as "to make laws to foster and rule the people.” He continued, “Thus established, state khurals proved to be beneficial in many respects, therefore making the state more powerful. [People] definitely understood that and nowadays most of sixty big and small countries have state khurals.”125

Whereas the Ukrainian radas and the first Mongolian State Khural ceased to exist as institutions in the 1910s, the concepts were integrated into the Soviet imperial formation, which extensively used non-Russian nationalisms. Even though the Ukrainian Central Rada was the enemy of the Soviet government in Ukraine, the translation of soviet into Ukrainian as rada practically appropriated the term for the Bolsheviks. Indeed, the Ukr ainian Socialist Soviet Republic (Ukrains’ka Sotsiialistychna Radians ’ka Respublika), which was formed in 1919 as a nominally independent state, became one of the USSR’s constituent republics in December 1922. In 1921, the Mongolian People’s Government, which proclaimed Mongolia’s independence with Soviet support, established the Provisional State Khural as a consultative body.126 Furthermore, the assembly which constituted the Mongolian People’s Republic after Bogd Khan’s demise in 1924 was called the First Great Khural. It adopted the first Constitution of Mongolia, establishing the Great Khural as a constitutional parliamentary body.127 Both the radas and the khurals in the Soviet empire, however, were nominal bodies, fully subordinate to the Ukrainian and Mongolian ruling parties, themselves accountable to the Bolshevik Party.

 
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