On October 17 Tsar Nicholas II issued the The Manifesto on the Improvement of the State Order (more commonly known as the October Manifesto). The Manifesto essentially acted as a predecessor to Russia’s first constitution by promising to grant basic civil liberties, allow more widespread participation in the Duma (Russian parliament), and introduce universal male suffrage.
Pictured above is former Chairman of the Duma and Minister of War in the Russian Government, Alexander Guchkov. In 1906 Guchkov headed a political party known as the Union of 17 October (whose members were known as “Octobrists”), which pledged to cooperate with the Russian government as long as it upheld the provisions promised in the October Manifesto. That same year the government chose to carry out several of the promises made in 1905 by holding elections for the State Duma (lower house of parliament), granting broader civil liberties such as freedom of expression and assembly, and allowing workers to form unions.
Some believe that the government chose to keep the promises made in the October Manifesto solely to keep the support of Guchkov and the Octobrists. Despite having ended the revolution in 1905, the Russian government did not believe they could afford to lose the support of the Union of 17 October. One might go as far as to say the the Octobrists helped bring about new levels of social progress in early 2oth century Russia by holding the government accountable to keep their word in the form of the October Manifesto.
Picture Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Guchkov
Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 255-263. Print.