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Why did the Provisional Government fail?

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Quick Answer

The Russian Provisional Government failed as a result of its temporary status and its attempt to prolong the war. It also failed because it was at the mercy of the Petrograd Soviet.

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Full Answer

The primary reason why the Russian Provisional Government failed was because it tried to continue the war. In June 1917, the Provisional Government organized an attack on Austria. After the first attack failed, members of the Provisional Government revolted. Due to the war’s failures and widespread hunger, former Provisional members shifted to Vladimir Lenin, whose message was "Peace, bread, land."

The Provisional Government was also required to share power with the Petrograd Soviet. However, the Petrograd Soviet ruled that the Provisional Government would only be obeyed when the Petrograd Soviet agreed with it.

In addition to this power struggle, the Provisional Government was crippled by inflation and hunger. The prolonging of the war depleted the nation of necessary resources to solve its land, food and fuel shortages. As desertions increased, the Provisional Government created death squads to capture and execute deserters. The killing eventually turned soldiers against the Provisional Government. After failing on the battlefield and ignoring domestic problems, Russians flocked to Lenin’s optimistic message. The Russian Provisional Government quickly came to be despised by nearly every class of citizens and formally dissolved in July 1917.

The Provisional Government was only a temporary governing body. It was led by Alexander Kerensky and established by the members of the Duma following the collapse of the tsar's government in March 1917. As a result of its interim status, the Provisional Government did not carry out any substantial reforms.

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