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A provisional government is an emergency or interim government set up when a political void has been created by the collapse of a very large government. The early provisional governments were created to prepare for the return of royal rule. Irregularly convened assemblies during the English Revolution, such as Confederate Ireland (1641-49), were described as "provisional." The practice of using "provisional government" as part of a formal name can be traced to Talleyrand's government in France in 1814. The numerous provisional governments during the Revolutions of 1848 gave the word its modern meaning: A liberal government established to prepare for elections. The most notable provisional government was the Russian Provisional Government in 1917.

Provisional governments were also established throughout Europe as occupied nations were liberated from Nazi occupation by the Allies.

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