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State Duma discusses bills on political reforms

February 29, 2012, 11:56 UTC+3
1 pages in this article

On Tuesday the State Duma adopted in the first hearing the presidential bills on political reform. They offer easier registration of parties, direct elections of governors and also to free political parties from collecting signatures in their support. Non-parliamentary parties participated in the discussion.

Rossiiskaya Gazeta writes that non-parliamentary opposition, which participated in the session, as of yet did not have a right to speak and could only follow the discussion about the president’s three bills to reform Russia’s political system. But already “very soon”, Deputy chairman of the State Duma Sergei Neverov of United Russia said, those “guests” to the Duma may have a real chance to “press” those who now feel comfortable in the hall. Meanwhile representatives of three non-parliamentary parties, Patriots of Russia, Right Course and Yabloko, which do not have mandates at the parliament, but who have a legal right not only once a year to be present at a plenary session devoted to major social issues, but also to ask questions, pushed for quicker implementation of the requirement for fewer numbers of party members.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes about many comments to the bills. Even from United Russia. To say nothing about non-parliamentary parties, which on Tuesday were granted the right to participate in discussions, which are comparable with those their counterparts in Duma enjoy.

It is interesting, the newspaper stresses, that representatives of the parties, which had been invited to the State Duma on Tuesday, but not invited to speak, shared most unfavourable view on the presidential package. For example, coordinator of the Left Front Sergei Udaltsov claimed the reform looked half-hearted, “it is a tricky reform.” First of all because the way the document is formulated, provides better conditions for the party of power. Udaltsov stressed that a party registration should be only on a notification basis, and not as if on a notification basis like it is now. Formation of blocs should be allowed, too, as otherwise many small parties will not be able to do anything. It is necessary to cut the number of reasons for rejecting registration of candidates for elections. Like many others, Udaltsov spoke categorically against the “presidential filter” in the law on election of governors. Co-chairman of PARNAS Vladimir Ryzhkov added besides a new way of forming election commissions. He also criticises the bill on elections to the State Duma, which had been presented by Medvedev, too. This bill was not on the agenda on Tuesday, but every speaker anyway referred to it. Ryzhkov said the project is worthless as is offers a very complicated system of proportions. It is necessary to go back to the single-mandate option.

Interesting that anyway everybody at the State Duma knows: head of the Kremlin’s working group to correct the political legislation – first deputy head of the presidential administration Vyacheslav Volodin is not letting anybody different polish Medvedev’s bills. Another meeting of the group is due on March 12. It will start a detailed discussion of the initiatives offered by various parties. It happens so that representatives of the non-system opposition have more chances to reach the Kremlin, than many deputies who are not members of that working group.

Kommersant writes that in reality the State Duma factions supported the package unanimously, though adding they would insist on major corrections for the second reading. CPRF /Communist Party of the Russian Federation/ and LDPR /Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia/ have not revealed their suggestions. Leader of the faction of  Just Russia Sergei Mironov and leader of United Russia’s faction Andrei Vorobyev agree it necessary to have an “election filter” for parties. For example, so that regional elections could be only for the parties, which have proven themselves “positively” at a municipal level, while those who prove themselves on a regional level would be able to participate in the elections to the State Duma.

During the discussion of the bill introducing direct elections of governors, presidential representative Garri Minh explained that former governors would be able to run for the top position in the region again following adoption of the law, the Novye Izvestia stresses. During the plenary session, deputies suggested introducing a moratorium on change of governors and heads of regions. A Just Russia’s deputy Anton Belyakov said: “It would be honest, if for the time of the bill’s discussion, nomination of governors is stopped.” The presidential representative objected saying that in his opinion it was necessary to observe certain legal procedures. “We have a time limit fixed in the law – 90 days, where Russia’s president should start the procedure,” Minh said.

Practically all speakers said it useless to discuss suggestions on development of the party system separately from the law on new regulations for the elections to the State Duma, the Moskovsky Komsomolets reports. They also said that if parties, which are going to be many or very many /from 60 to 300 were the forecasts/, do not enjoy again the right to organise blocs, the parliament would not represent interests of over a half of electors. This is because only very big parties, which are only a few, will be able to get the State Duma seats.


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