Municipal Reform of 1870

Municipal Reform of 1870

 

(Municipal Statute of June 16, 1870), one of the bourgeois reforms in Russia. The aim of the Municipal Reform of 1870 was to improve the economy of the cities and to attract the big financial and commercial bourgeoisie to municipal administration. Preparation of the Municipal Reform began in 1862. but it was only in 1870 that the draft was approved by Tsar Alexander II and published. The Municipal Reform of 1870 replaced the previous estate dumas with municipal institutions of local self-government drawn from all the estates. The administrative bodies were municipal dumas, and the executive bodies were municipal executive boards elected by the dumas.

The members of the municipal dumas were elected for four years and were known as glasnye. There were usually 30–72 duma members; however, in Moscow there were 180 and in St. Petersburg, 250. The executive boards consisted of two or three members under the chairmanship of the town mayor, who was at the same time the chairman of the municipal duma. The right to vote for the municipal duma was enjoyed only by those residents who had reached age 25 and owned real property liable to tax assessments, owners of industrial and commercial establishments, and merchants who paid municipal taxes. Thus, workers, petty civil servants, and professionals who did not own immovable property were deprived of the right to vote. The elections to the municipal dumas were conducted according to the so-called three-class electoral system, corresponding to the amount of taxes paid to the city. Thousands of small taxpayers elected the same number of members to the duma as several dozen big industrialists and merchants. The system of property qualifications guaranteed the predominance of the big financial and commercial-industrial bourgeoisie in the duma.

The jurisdiction of municipal public institutions was restricted to local economic questions, including the organization of public services and amenities, trade and industry, public health care, and public education. The municipal income of the duma was derived from taxes assessed on real property and taxes on industrial, commercial, and other enterprises. The dumas and municipal executive boards were subordinate to the governor (a provincial office on municipal affairs was established in each province), as well as to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Despite its limited nature, the Municipal Reform of 1870 was an improvement over the pre-reform organization of municipal administration.

The new Municipal Statute of June 11, 1892, gave the big bourgeoisie and the nobility still greater representation in the municipal dumas and essentially transformed municipal self-government into a subsidiary organ of the government on questions of the local economy. However, even in this curtailed form, tsarism did not dare introduce the municipal reform into Poland, Middle Asia, and Finland.

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. “Goniteli zemstva i Annibaly liberalizma.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 5.
Vtoroe polnoe sobrante zakonov, vol. 45. St. Petersburg, 1874. Section 1, no. 48498.
Picheta, V. I. “Gorodskaia reforma 1870 g.” In Tri veka, vol. 6. Moscow, 1913.

V. V. GARMIZA

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