ROAR: “Prices growing, early elections looming”

The parliamentary elections in 2011 may come early, and the Russian parliament could announce its dissolution in December, predicts Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.

Early elections could be held in October or March next year, Zhirinovsky, who is also deputy Duma speaker, said on Wednesday. He explained the possible development in his particular manner, saying that “the situation is getting worse, prices are growing, and the next summer will be cold because… it is the law of nature.”

Deputies of the parliament’s lower house, the State Duma, may announce the dissolution in December, after which the president could set the date of election for March 13, Interfax agency quoted the deputy speaker as saying. Zhirinovsky heads the opposition party, while the majority in the Duma belongs to the United Russia party.

Zhirinovsky has suggested introducing a single date for all year’s elections in Russia – the last Sunday of March. According to him, people could vote first for the president, the next year they would vote for the parliament’s deputies, on the third year – for local legislative bodies.

The next elections to the lower house of parliament are scheduled for December 2011. However, as the presidential elections are to be held in March 2012, some politicians have spoken in favor of early parliamentary elections.

State Duma speaker and head of United Russia’ supreme council Boris Gryzlov already proposed in September uniting all 2011 elections. Regional and parliamentary elections could be held on one day in October or March, he said.

However, the current legislation bans early Duma elections as it may limit the term of the parliament’s authorities, Vlast magazine noted, commenting on these proposals. To reduce the term, the Constitution should be amended or the parliament dissolved.

At the same time, the dissolution is only possible if the Duma three times rejects the president’s candidate for the prime minister or after its vote of no confidence in the government. The Constitution does not contain provisions for voluntary dissolution mentioned by Zhirinovsky, Lenta.ru website said.

Observers also doubt that Gryzlov’s proposal may be easily implemented as well. “To eliminate the single day of regional voting in March, it is necessary to amend the law on main electoral rights of citizens,” Moskovsky Komsomolets daily said. Changing the date for parliamentary elections would reduce the term of the present deputies, the paper noted.

However, jurists may solve all “technological issues,” believes Igor Lebedev, the head of the Liberal Democratic party’s faction in Duma. Even such an “exotic way” may be used as “voluntary resignation” of all Duma deputies, he told the daily.

Ivan Melnikov, Duma deputy speaker and one of the leaders of the Communist Party, agrees that changing the date of elections is difficult “from a judicial point of view.” However, the Communists are ready to take part in elections “even tomorrow,” he told the paper.

Changing the date of elections may be used to separate parliamentary and presidential elections, analysts say. At the same time, “representatives of opposition parties are certain that holding regional and federal elections simultaneously is advantageous to United Russia,” Moskovsky Komsomolets said. “The last elections in regions have demonstrated the drop of the party’s popularity by 10-20% compared to the elections to the State Duma,” it explained.

“The logic of United Russia’s members is understandable: because of the drop of support, they want to unite as many elections as possible to attract more people,” Nikolay Levichev, the head of the Fair Russia party’s faction in the parliament, told Vedomosti daily.

Campaigning for parliamentary elections, United Russia will have more chances in regional elections held simultaneously, believes Leonid Gozman, a co-chairman of the Right Cause opposition party.

“I think that members of United Russia are feeling the loss of their positions in regions,” the politician told Interfax. Holding all the elections simultaneously, he said, may help the party to combine the federal and regional campaigns to “attract the most significant figures who will also automatically increase the authority of the regional leaders on party lists.”

Sergey Borisov,
Russian Opinion and Analysis Review, RT