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Ex Minister's Group Slams Plan To Water Down Russian Gubernatorial Election Bill
Interfax - 4.24.12 - JRL 2012-75

Moscow, 23 April: "The municipal filter" proposed for the second reading in the State Duma of the bill on elections for governors would make the document pointless and eliminate political competition, the Committee for Civic Initiatives, led by former Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin, said.


file photo
"In the form it is envisaged by the amendments for the second reading, it (the filter - Interfax) would make the entire bill pointless by giving the incumbent regional authorities almost unlimited powers to bar undesirable (undesirable for them, not for the electorate) candidates," the committee said in a statement published on Kudrin's official website.

"The result would be an imitation of competition, which is almost worse than no elections at all. The Russian people are sufficiently literate politically to understand that this is another attempt to deceive them at the ballot box. This would therefore discredit political reform in its entirety," the committee said.

The committee believes that parties should be able to nominate their candidates for the post of regional head in the same way as presidential candidates are registered, that is without any additional barriers because "the support of at least 5 per cent of the electorate they have secured is the actual filter in their case".

"Other candidates should be entitled to registration through the collection of signatures. Let their number be up to 2 per cent of the total number of voters. This would be higher than the barrier at the next presidential election," the committee said.

It also said that Russia's largest parliamentary opposition party, the CPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation), has only 7.5 per cent of the municipal (parliament and council) seats, while others have even fewer seats.

"The majority of the nominally independent deputies (as well as deputies from opposition parties) combine their work as deputies with their main occupation. Needless to say, they are in a variety of ways dependent on the goodwill of the local and regional authorities," the committee said.

"One needs to be extremely naive or simply hypocritical to suggest that in such conditions an undesirable candidate could gather the signatures of 5-10 per cent of the municipal deputies. In the majority of constituent parts of the Russian Federation, only the governing party's candidate would manage to negotiate such a 'filter'," the committee said.

The committee also said that the proposal to introduce a single polling day in September would harm the interests of voters because the height of campaigning would be during the holiday season.

"The compulsory introduction of not a single, but the only polling day in mid-September, which would cause most of the election campaign to coincide with the holiday season, while the elections themselves with one of the year's last good days in most of the country, does not just deliberately give an advantage to pro-government politicians. There will be no winners on such a polling day because such a victory would be gained by deliberately restricting citizens' interest in politics and their conscious participation in it," the committee said.

It said that "the bill requires major reworking".

A bill on elections for governors, introduced by Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev, is currently being prepared for the second reading in the State Duma. The president proposed that the current practice of heads of regions being effectively appointed be replaced with direct elections. The draft bill says that the most senior official in a constituent part of the Russian Federation is elected by universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot. Parties can nominate their candidates for the post of regional head. (Independent) Candidates can also nominate themselves.

Several amendments are being proposed for the second reading, including one envisaging a filter at municipal level obliging party candidates as well as independent candidates to secure the support of between 5 and 10 per cent of the deputies in the elected bodies of municipal entities and/or directly elected heads of municipal entities. The provision concerning a presidential filter has changed. Whereas previously it was envisaged that parties nominating candidates would hold consultations with the head of state, it is now proposed that the president himself should decide on the need to hold such consultations and their format.

Elections for governors may require two rounds of voting. The candidate who receives more than half the votes cast is considered to have been elected.

If the bill is approved, elections for governors will be held in October this year.

The bill is due to be examined on its second reading on 24 April.

Keywords: Russia, Government, Politics - Russian News - Russia

 

Moscow, 23 April: "The municipal filter" proposed for the second reading in the State Duma of the bill on elections for governors would make the document pointless and eliminate political competition, the Committee for Civic Initiatives, led by former Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin, said.


file photo
"In the form it is envisaged by the amendments for the second reading, it (the filter - Interfax) would make the entire bill pointless by giving the incumbent regional authorities almost unlimited powers to bar undesirable (undesirable for them, not for the electorate) candidates," the committee said in a statement published on Kudrin's official website.

"The result would be an imitation of competition, which is almost worse than no elections at all. The Russian people are sufficiently literate politically to understand that this is another attempt to deceive them at the ballot box. This would therefore discredit political reform in its entirety," the committee said.

The committee believes that parties should be able to nominate their candidates for the post of regional head in the same way as presidential candidates are registered, that is without any additional barriers because "the support of at least 5 per cent of the electorate they have secured is the actual filter in their case".

"Other candidates should be entitled to registration through the collection of signatures. Let their number be up to 2 per cent of the total number of voters. This would be higher than the barrier at the next presidential election," the committee said.

It also said that Russia's largest parliamentary opposition party, the CPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation), has only 7.5 per cent of the municipal (parliament and council) seats, while others have even fewer seats.

"The majority of the nominally independent deputies (as well as deputies from opposition parties) combine their work as deputies with their main occupation. Needless to say, they are in a variety of ways dependent on the goodwill of the local and regional authorities," the committee said.

"One needs to be extremely naive or simply hypocritical to suggest that in such conditions an undesirable candidate could gather the signatures of 5-10 per cent of the municipal deputies. In the majority of constituent parts of the Russian Federation, only the governing party's candidate would manage to negotiate such a 'filter'," the committee said.

The committee also said that the proposal to introduce a single polling day in September would harm the interests of voters because the height of campaigning would be during the holiday season.

"The compulsory introduction of not a single, but the only polling day in mid-September, which would cause most of the election campaign to coincide with the holiday season, while the elections themselves with one of the year's last good days in most of the country, does not just deliberately give an advantage to pro-government politicians. There will be no winners on such a polling day because such a victory would be gained by deliberately restricting citizens' interest in politics and their conscious participation in it," the committee said.

It said that "the bill requires major reworking".

A bill on elections for governors, introduced by Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev, is currently being prepared for the second reading in the State Duma. The president proposed that the current practice of heads of regions being effectively appointed be replaced with direct elections. The draft bill says that the most senior official in a constituent part of the Russian Federation is elected by universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot. Parties can nominate their candidates for the post of regional head. (Independent) Candidates can also nominate themselves.

Several amendments are being proposed for the second reading, including one envisaging a filter at municipal level obliging party candidates as well as independent candidates to secure the support of between 5 and 10 per cent of the deputies in the elected bodies of municipal entities and/or directly elected heads of municipal entities. The provision concerning a presidential filter has changed. Whereas previously it was envisaged that parties nominating candidates would hold consultations with the head of state, it is now proposed that the president himself should decide on the need to hold such consultations and their format.

Elections for governors may require two rounds of voting. The candidate who receives more than half the votes cast is considered to have been elected.

If the bill is approved, elections for governors will be held in October this year.

The bill is due to be examined on its second reading on 24 April.


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