Communists push for coalition govt with Cabinet posts shared

The Government House of Russian Federation (RIA Novosti/Vladimir Astapkovich)
A senior Communist Party MP has revealed plans to propose a bill that would radically change the way Russia’s government forms its Cabinet and give the parliamentary opposition a way to share power.

The bill has been already verified by legal experts and sent to other State Duma factions, deputy chairman of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, Valery Rashkin, told the Tass news agency. He noted that the intention of the move was to attract more sponsors to the motion. “We want the draft law to be submitted not only from the Communist Party caucus,” Rashkin said adding that he expected the bill to be submitted to the Lower House as early as January.

The draft suggests changing how governments are formed in Russia to make it obligatory that all parliamentary parties can nominate their candidates for the ministers’ posts, proportionally to their representation in the Lower House, the State Duma. The parliamentary majority party would get only one guaranteed post, that of prime minister. The candidates for government posts can be MPs or from outside parliament.

According to the bill, the distribution of particular ministerial positions would be achieved through negotiations between the parliamentary parties, and once a consensus is reached, the government’s overall composition must be signed by the president.

Presently, the government is proposed by the prime minister alone, and the list of ministers is then signed by the president. The PM’s candidacy is proposed by the president and must be officially agreed with the State Duma within one week (the president has the right to dissolve the Lower House if it does not approve of the PM’s candidacy three times in a row),

The main argument of the authors of the motion is that in the current situation, when the government is formed by the parliamentary majority faction alone, the “staff and program potential” of the opposition remains unused and eventually becomes wasted.

According to Rashkin, the Communist Party has also prepared a related bill that, once passed, would introduce proportionate coalition governments to Russia’s federal regions.

The MP told reporters that according to his calculations, if the new system was already working at least four ministers and two deputy prime ministers would be Communists. Currently there are eight deputy PMs and 23 federal ministers in the Russian government. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation holds 92 out of 450 seats in the Lower House.

Rashkin also added that before the bill is submitted to the parliament, the head of the Communist Party, Gennadiy Zyuganov, would discuss it with President Vladimir Putin to avoid a “blank shot” – the discussion of an initiative with no perspective of being signed into law.