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New parliamentary election law to boost political competition

February 12, 2014, 11:56 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Secretary of United Russia's General Council Sergei Neverov, ahead of the vote on the second reading of the document on Wednesday, confirmed that the parliamentary majority would support it

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© ITAR-TASS/Dmitry Astakhov

MOSCOW, February 12, 11:22 /ITAR-TASS/. A top ruling party official praised the new bill on Russian parliamentary election saying it will help boost political competition. Secretary of United Russia's General Council Sergei Neverov, ahead of the vote on the second reading of the document on Wednesday, confirmed that the parliamentary majority would support it.

"We support the amendment brought forward by all the political parties represented in the parliament, which envisions qualification requirements for political parties," Neverov said adding that "these requirements meet world practice and international election standards."

"The proposed criteria are more liberal than those existing today in many countries. They are aimed at ensuring the participation in political life of the parties having real voter support," the United Russia Party official went on.

"The new legislation will increase political competition. Whereas seven parties took part in the 2011 parliamentary election, we now have almost twice as many," Neverov said.

Russia will have two Single Voting Days before the next parliamentary election, when 23 regions will elect deputies to regional parliaments. All the registered parties which now number more than 70 have the opportunity to win a seat in regional legislature, he noted.

Political analysts polled by Itar-Tass on Tuesday said that the new bill, if approved, would facilitate political competition.

"The idea of qualification requirements for parties meets world practice; it's reasonable and does not reduce competition in politics," said Konstantin Simonov, head of the Applied Political Science Department of the Financial University under the Russian government.

Earlier, the house committee on constitutional legislation and state development recommended the State Duma to approve the amendments by leaders of all the four factions who insisted on the introduction of criteria of political parties' participation in parliamentary elections.

The concept of the president-proposed bill initially allowed all parties to participate in parliamentary elections without any restrictions or signature collection.

A party is not required to gather signatures if its federal list during the latest election campaign netted at least 3% of votes or if its representatives won seats in at least one regional legislative assembly.

The parties which do not meet these requirements have to gather at least 200,000 of voters' signatures in different regions. The number of signatures in each province should not exceed 7,000.

Candidates in single constituencies from a party which secures the required number of votes and registers its federal list are exempt from signature collection.

Other "majority" candidates will have to gather at least 3% of votes of the electorate registered in their district. If the population in a given area is below 100,000, they have to gather at least 3,000 signatures.

Experts, whose comments were carried by a number of media outlets said that despite the introduction of the amendment, a number of parties will be able to run in the election aside from the four parties represented in the Russian parliament /United Russia, KPRF, A Just Russia and LDPR/. These parties are Yabloko, Patriots of Russia, Rodina, RPR-Parnas, Right Cause, Civil Platform, Russian Pensioners' Party For Justice and Communists of Russia.

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