ROAR: Parties will open election lists for popular figures

United Russia has proposed increasing the number of candidates on parties’ federal election lists and banning unregistered parties from publishing their manifestos.

Members of the ruling United Russia party have submitted legislation to the parliament that will allow parties to have up to ten candidates on their election lists rather that the present three names. The project has been supported by other parliamentary parties, said Vyacheslav Volodin, deputy speaker of the State Duma.

Now each party has to divide its election list into more than 90 regional groups and a federal group with three top candidates. Regional groups consist of local politicians and sometimes public figures from Moscow. Voters receive a ballot with the candidates from the federal group and their region’s group representing each party participating in elections.

If the new legislation is adopted, parties will decide how many people will be included into the federal group of their election lists for elections, Volodin, who is also a secretary of the presidium of United Russia’s general council, noted. There could be only one candidate, three or even ten, the politician stressed.

However, United Russia insists that all people included in federal lists should be presented in the ballot seen by voters. Many people would have never voted for some candidates in the past if their names had been printed in a ballot, Volodin believes.

Leaders of the parties represented in Duma have discussed the amendments with President Dmitry Medvedev. Although the initiative comes from the ruling party, officials in the presidential administration say it may help the opposition as well, RBC daily said.

Some parties may strengthen their positions by inviting popular actors and sportsmen, the paper noted. Earlier they could not be included into federal lists simply because three places were not enough even for a party’s leaders, it said.

The new system will be advantageous for parties which have “someone to be proud of, to be presented to voters,” agreed Ivan Melnikov, first deputy chairman of the Communist Party’s central committee.

Having only three candidates in the federal part, “we had to include well-known people into regional lists,” Melnikov told RBC daily. “Now there will be no such problem,” he said. The party will be able to form a wide group able to concentrate on the campaign around the country, he added.

As a rule, any party includes “the best-known individuals who support its program and ideas,” Melnikov noted.

People from the federal list have priority in getting into the parliament, Nikolay Levichev, the head of the Fair Russia party’s faction in the State Duma, said. The amendments will help parties to have valuable people in the Lower House, he added.

However, increasing federal parts of party lists may create the situation where some regions would not have deputies, believes Aleksandr Kynev, director of regional programs of the Fund of Information Policy Development.

“It should be understood that for some parties to increase federal lists means seven to ten groups less in regions,” he told online newspaper. “Some regions will be left without a deputy’s mandate in the Duma.”

Meanwhile, State Duma deputies from United Russia Andrey Vorobyov and Sergey Popov submitted another draft bill to the parliament that requires a political party to publish its manifesto in the media only after its registration. Now parties may publish their programs in the state-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily after a founding congress.

“The official government’s newspaper is being fully closed for the opposition,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily said. “The law on political parties is being toughened again,’ it added.

Politician and writer Eduard Limonov’s party Other Russia “has no chances of being registered, but it managed to publish its manifesto in Rossiyskaya Gazeta,” the paper noted.

The initiative of the two deputies seems to be strange, Nezavisimaya Gazeta said. It would be difficult for unregistered parties to confuse voters because “only a couple of parties have been registered in Russia” over almost ten years, the paper said.

The publication of Limonov’s manifesto could provoke such a reaction, the daily noted, citing analysts. Rossiyskaya Gazeta also had to publish “reflections of the Left Front party” which has since received several rejections of registration.

“It should be noted that, at the end of last week, another party has been founded in Russia, ‘Motherland – Common Sense,’ headed by Mikhail Delyagin,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta said. “It is not unlikely that [the amendment was submitted] to prevent the publication of its manifesto.”

Sergey Borisov,
Russian Opinion and Analysis Review, RT