«Legislative Initiative» of the State Council of Russian Empire in the Second Half of the 19th Century

Chernikova N.V.


In Russian Empire of the second half of the 19th century, the right to initiate legislative projects belonged to the autocrat and, also, to ministries, the Governing Senate and the Holy Sinod. The highest legislative authority of Russian Empire, the State Council, had no such power. However, in practice it could commission ministers to draft any legislation which the Council considered useful and essential. This power stemmed from custom, not from law; besides, it founded support from the Russian emperors. As these assignments («predstavlenia») were unofficial, they weren’t governed by any law or limited by any rules. They could even border on wishes. And of course, the State Council wasn’t able (or allowed) to supervise the enforcement of its assignments. But it doesn’t mean that ministers could afford to neglect them. These assignments might have had not only legislative character. Very often they were of financial or administrative nature and constituted permissions for ministers, those ones, therefore, being interested to fulfil them. Ministers furthermore had to cover lacuna in legislation that were noticed by the Council. Regardless of this aspect, projects could suffer multiple delays, and expected dates of its completion might have been not respected. In other cases, especially if it was a legislative project, its implementation might, for various reasons, have been impossible at all. Nevertheless, the power of the State Council to entrust ministers the tasks of developing drafts compensated for the lack of legislative initiative and was one of the manifestations of its role as an interministerial coordinator.


Russian Empire; State Council; assignement; emperor; ministers; legislation; coordination.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2020.04.04

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