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Duma to consider bill on return of mixed MP election system

April 16, 2013, 9:23 UTC+3

The factions of A Just Russia and United Russia are ready to support the concept of the bill

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MOSCOW, April 16 (Itar-Tass) - The State Duma lower house of Russia’s parliament will consider in the first reading on Tuesday the draft law on the return to a mixed system of elections of members of parliament – by party lists and in 225 single-member constituencies.

The bill on the new procedure of the parliamentary elections of MPs was introduced by Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 1. Under the document, half of the lawmakers should be elected in 225 majority constituencies (one MP – one constituency) and half – in “the federal constituency in proportion to the number of the electorate votes cast for the federal lists of candidates.”

The direct nomination of candidates can be self-nomination or nomination in the list of political parties, a memorandum to the document says.

“The federal list of candidates is divided into the federal and regional parts, and the federal part is optional,” the memorandum says.

The federal part can include no more than 10 candidates, and the regional part (with the absence of the federal part - on the federal list) must have at least 35 regional groups of candidates. The regional part of the list should cover the whole territory of Russia.

No signature collection will be needed for the registration of the list and the candidates in single-seat constituencies nominated by political parties. As for self-nominees, they are “required to collect at least 0.5 percent of signatures of voters registered in the corresponding single-mandate constituency, and if the constituency has less than 100,000 voters – at least 500 signatures.”

The draft law preserves the election hurdle for parties to the State Duma – 5 percent of the vote.

The bill does not envisage the creation of election coalitions.

A total of 450 members are elected to the State Duma of the Russian Federation. Since 2007, the Duma elections have been held only by party lists.

Head of the Duma Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building Vladimir Pligin stated that “the transition to a mixed system of elections to the State Duma has been caused by the public demand.” “The voters want to know better the deputies representing their interests,” he stressed. According to Pligin’s forecasts, the law may be passed by the Duma before the end of the spring session of the lower house.

First deputy head of the United Russia faction Vyacheslav Timchenko said that the main purpose of the bill is the “stabilisation of the situation that has emerged as a result of the liberalisation of the party system.” “The process of registration of political parties has been simplified to the limit, which resulted in a sharp increase in their number,” Timchenko recalled.

“If we abstract from the particulars, we can say that at a new stage of history we are returning to the system of elections to the State Duma, which had existed until 2004. But this does not mean that the transition to elections solely by party lists was a mistake, on the contrary, it was dictated by objective requirements of the development of our political system at the time. The purpose of this transition – raising the role of parties in the political process - today, in my opinion, has been basically implemented,” Timchenko said.

However, Russia should not go into the other extreme, said the lawmaker. “The dominance of the party-political interests in making policy decisions in the State Duma does not always correspond to the weight of these interests in our society. The point is to conduct further reform of the political system, which should be more flexible, maximally taking into account the interests of all citizens,” he concluded.

The factions of A Just Russia and United Russia are ready to support the concept of the bill.

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