Russia faces Duma elections under the new rules and in the conditions of economic crisis

Russia faces Duma elections under the new rules and in the conditions of economic crisis

MOSCOW, January 1. Russia enters the year of the Federal elections on 18 September will be held the elections of the State Duma of the seventh convocation. After a long break, MPs will be selected by party lists and in single member constituencies, in addition, almost half of voters across the country will have to bear additional burden in the form of elections for regional legislatures and governors. According to political analysts, the party composition of the new Duma is unlikely to undergo serious changes, but at the expense of constituencies in the Parliament may appear bright opinion leaders.

The CEC in turn is preparing to hold elections in conditions of austerity and the great number of parties involved. But sociologists warn that the elections will be held amid the economic downturn and the crisis may make adjustments in the balance of political forces.

Candidates will be more

Elections of the state Duma of the seventh convocation will be the first in 13 years, the Federal campaign, which is held on a mixed system. Half of the deputies – 225 – will be elected on party lists and half in single-mandate constituencies.

This entails a number of difficulties for political parties and the Central election Commission, which organized the vote. The CEC will have to make two ballots for each voter with candidates in single-mandate constituency and on the party lists, which have Federal and regional part. By 18 September it is planned to print 200 million ballot papers, including in national languages in several regions.

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The upcoming elections will be the most ambitious in recent years not only because of the transition to the mixed system, but also due to combine national campaigns with regional and municipal. In 38 subjects residents will vote not only for deputies of the state Duma, but also MPs of the regional legislative assemblies. In six regions – Karachaevo-Circassia, Komi, Tver, Tula, Ulyanovsk regions and Chechnya – elections of heads of regions. In addition, numerous planned municipal campaign.

All will be replaced with 36 thousand mandates in the elections at all levels, reported previously Deputy Chairman of the CEC Leonid Ivlev. According to him, due to the combination of the state Duma elections to regional and municipal about half of voters will receive a minimum of three votes, and “in theory in some regions of the country, voters can collect up to ten ballots”.

According to the CEC, the number of voters in Russia is about 109 million people.

14 players

The CEC is preparing for the election participants will have plenty due to the sharply increased number of political parties. In the Duma elections of 2011 was attended by all seven registered at that time in Russia the political parties: United Russia, CPRF, LDPR, “Fair Russia” “Patriots of Russia”, “Pravoe Delo” and “Yabloko”. However, in recent years following the liberalization of the law on political parties, their number has risen to 77, in elections can take part 74 of the party.

The majority of experts believe that, despite the formal party and the diversity of players in the electoral arena will be much less – 14. That is how much the parties have the right to nominate candidates without collecting signatures. In addition to the four parliamentary parties, Yabloko, has overcome the three-percent barrier in the previous Duma elections, have the benefit of the party presented at least one regional legislative Assembly. This “Civic platform”, “Civil force”, “Green”, “Communists of Russia”, “Parnassus”, “Patriots of Russia”, “Pravoe Delo”, Russian party of pensioners for justice, “homeland”.

First Deputy head of presidential administration Vyacheslav Volodin at the meeting in late December, the conference of political strategists expressed confidence that “the campaign itself will be competitive”. “Fourteen of the parties (entitled to propose candidates to the state Duma without having to collect signatures – approx.) it’s already plainly stated that there would be a choice,” he said.

No surprises expected

According to political analysts, the revolutionary results of the elections, the Duma will retain the four factions.

“If we talk about the party lists, I don’t think there will be someone new, there will be some surprises. I think that the current parliamentary party will confirm its status”, – said the head of the Foundation for civil society development (Fcsd) Konstantin Kostin.

However, he did not rule out the possibility that new parties can get seats in the Duma at the expense of independent candidates. “First of all, I wouldn’t be here meant “Homeland” and “Patriots of Russia”, because they have strong chapters and strong candidates,” – said the expert. He added that the representatives of these parties in popular front “under their banners can go the representatives of the popular front that extends them a bench of candidates.”

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The representatives of the opposition is unlikely to win mandates, says Kostin. He expressed doubt that “Apple” will be able to conduct a good campaign in the Federal scale. “The “Apple” has a strong regional offices, there is not very much, and if we’re talking about a Federal campaign, I think they even maintain the status quo achieved in the 2011 elections, will not be easy”, – said the head of the Fcsd.

“Parnassus,” according to Kostin, can count on the Duma elections only 1-2% of the vote.

A similar Outlook was expressed at a conference of political strategists and political scientist Igor Bunin. “Most likely, we will retain four (parliamentary parties – ed.), but the ratio between them will be different: more towards the “United Russia” and less towards the other three parties,” he said.

During the election campaign parties will have to compete in the conditions of crisis and falling of level and quality of life of voters, reminded the same conference, the head of the Agency for political and economic communications Dmitry Orlov. It expected the level of support of “United Russia” will be somewhat higher than in the 2011 elections, according to party lists and in single mandate constituencies.

The General Director of the all-Russia centre of studying of public opinion Valery Fedorov recalled that from the beginning, the Russians, suffering from the effects of the economic crisis, has increased nearly by a quarter – from 47% to 60%. While the deterioration of material well-being often leads to growth of protest moods, he said. The sociologist does not exclude that in some regions the elections “Unified Russia” can expect a sharp deterioration in results. “The more affected by the crisis, the higher protest activity”, – he explained.

The primaries and debates

The election campaign may perk up considerably thanks to the television debates, binding on all parties and candidates. A bill to require candidates to participate in televised debates, introduced in December Vice speaker of the state Duma, Secretary of General Council of “United Russia” Sergei Neverov. The rest of the Duma fractions has declared its readiness to support this initiative.

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United Russia on the eve of the Duma campaign has announced yet another innovation, already inner. All candidates for the Duma and regional elections United Russia will determine the results of the primaries. The regulations for holding primary elections will be approved at the first stage of the party Congress in early February.

The primaries will be held on 22 may at the territory of Russia, they will be secret, each voter can vote for one candidate, but for multiple in each list. To participate in the primaries will not only have the members of “United Russia”, but the non-parties subject to the separation policy of the party. Mandatory requirement all candidates for provisional voting is the absence of any, even suppressed, criminal record, foreign nationality or residence permit and financial assets abroad.

September instead of December

In the past year, the electoral legislation has undergone significant reform. The Duma elections were postponed from the first Sunday in December third Sunday of September.

The current Duma was elected on 4 December 2011 for a term of five years, the first meeting of Commerce was held on 21 December 2011. The term of office of the state Duma, under article 99 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation starts from the date of its first meeting and shall expire on the date of the beginning of work of Parliament of new convocation. First meeting shall be held on the 30th day after the election of new members of the chamber.

In June 2015, the speaker of the lower house Sergey Naryshkin and the leaders of the factions “United Russia”, LDPR and “Fair Russia” initiated the transfer of the Duma elections in the fall and combining them with a single day of voting. Thus, as a result of amendments to the laws “On basic guarantees of electoral rights” and “On elections of deputies of the state Duma”, in the year of elections to the State Duma of the single voting day is held on the third Sunday of September, and in the interval between the parliamentary campaigns – the second Sunday in September.

The Communist party did not support changes in the laws, finding them unconstitutional, which the state Duma is elected for five years. The Communists insisted on postponing the vote on Nov. Among their arguments were the arguments that in September many Russians still spend a weekend out of town and the turnout will be low.

The Federation Council, as a “neutral party,” appealed to the constitutional court (CC) with a request to assess the legality of postponing the elections to an earlier date. According to the court, the Constitution does not exclude the possibility of a single change in Federal law, the date of each election, leading to a reduction in real term of the state Duma of the current convocation, provided that this reduction is significant in the constitutional order. However, this measure can be used as an exceptional, extraordinary, said the COP.

MPs who are not pereizberat in the Duma of the new convocation, will receive cash compensation, as initially it was assumed that they will work until December. For this period of time also retains all benefits and guarantee of inviolability.

The CEC has been asked to tighten their belts

The CEC was planning to spend on the preparation and holding of elections of the state Duma of 14.7 billion was the amount stated in the financial feasibility study, submitted last fall to the Ministry of Finance. However, in the Federal budget for the 2016 CEC to conduct the elections properly only 10.4 billion.

CEC Chairman Vladimir Churov said that the Ministry of Finance has proposed to save on the wages of employees of precinct and territorial election commissions, in fact, returning to the indemnities at the level of 2007. The head of the Central electoral Commission called it unacceptable, vowing to find other ways to save.

Thus, the CEC plans to abandon the printing of propaganda materials calling to come to the polls, voters will be informed about the voting day mostly on Internet. Also, according to Churov, in order to save the ballot regardless of the number participating in elections parties will be printed in a single sheet and not in the form of a booklet.

The CEC also called upon the regional commissions to consider more economical options for the organization of voting in remote villages, as the services of helicopter companies rose sharply.