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Russia upper house approves bill bringing back mixed election system of lower house

February 19, 2014, 14:24 UTC+3 MOSCOW

138 senators voted for the bill with one abstention

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© ITAR-TASS/Sergei Fadeichev

MOSCOW, February 19. /ITAR-TASS/. Federation Council upper house of parliament has approved a presidential bill bringing back mixed election system of State Duma lower house of parliament with 225 deputies elected on party lists and 225 deputies elected from single-seat constituencies.

138 senators voted for the bill with one abstention.

Presidential draft law set five percent election threshold for parties in the lower house of parliament, but leaves in force the ban on election blocs. Bill envisages an option to include non-partisan candidates in a party list, but no more than 50% of all candidates on the list. A party list can include from 200 to 400 candidates. The federal part of the party list can consist of no more than 10 candidates; regional part should embrace all territory of Russia and include no less than 35 groups.

Candidates in single-seat constituencies can be self-nominees or representatives of parties. A chart of constituencies is made for 10 years, according to the new law. Russian Central Elections Commission is to prepare first such chart no later than September 5, 2015.

Bill also sets criteria for permitting parties to run in elections. Parties should compulsorily be “supported by voters for running in election” that is confirmed by positive results of latest election in the State Duma or regional legislatures or by signup campaign results.

A party can be put on ballot papers without signup lists, if its federal list had gained no less than three percent of votes at previous election in the State Duma or if its lawmakers are members of at least one regional parliament. Parties that do not meet these requirements should gather no less than 200,000 signatures; meanwhile, no more than 7,000 signatures should be collected in one federal constituent entity. Procedure of checking signup lists remains unchanged.

A party, which has already gathered signatures and registered its list at elections in the State Duma, can also nominate its candidates from single-seat constituencies without signup lists. But self-nominees in single-seat constituencies will have to gather signatures in their support at no less than three percent of voters registered in a constituency and collect no less than 3,000 signatures if a constituency numbers less than 100,000 voters.

According to experts, 12 parties can run in next election in the State Duma without signup lists now. These parties are current parliamentary parties (United Russia, Communist Party, A Just Russia and the LDPR) as well as Yabloko, Patriots of Russia, Rodina, RPR-PARNAS, Right Cause, Civic Platform, Russian Party of Pensioners for Justice and Communists of Russia.

Bill also contains the ban on electing convicts for grave and heinous crimes for 10 and 15 years, respectively, and additional requirements for a candidate not to have all financial assets and bank accounts abroad.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has introduced a law concept in the State Duma in the spring of the previous year. After signing the bill into law by the president it will enter into force after its official publication. Election in the State Duma is to be held on new rules in 2016.

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