Opposition wants to lower election threshold ‘to calm down society’

Opposition wants to lower election threshold ‘to calm down society’
A nationalist lawmaker is suggesting halving the pass threshold at parliamentary elections from five percent to 2.5 percent as the change would ensure wider representation and a more peaceful and unified society.

The amendments to existing election law have been prepared and drafted by MP Aleksey Didenko of the populist nationalist party LDPR. The party is currently in parliamentary opposition with about 12 percent of the Lower House seats.

The MP explains that the Russian Federation is in a “complex” situation which was easier to overcome if the society was more united. “The future State Duma must become a place of universal concord. It deems logical and timely to ensure that it is comprised of people with different political views. The current 5 percent threshold is not matching the political reality,” the lawmaker said in an interview with Izvestia daily.

Didenko added he estimates the suggested rule change would secure the presence of 10 political parties in the Lower House instead of the current four. He said the plan was in line with liberal-democratic ideology and also with the recently approved plan to liberalize the Russian political system.

The MP claimed the street protests of 2011 were caused by many ordinary people realizing that their particular interests were not represented in the new parliament. The changes would also help to confront the problem of low voter turnout seen during the last single elections day, he said.

The turnover would peak above 70 percent after we persuade the voters that their opinion means a lot and disprove the claim that certain parties could not make it to parliament because the poll had been rigged. After we lower the election threshold the legitimacy of the parliament would raise very high in the voters’ eyes,” the lawmaker said.

The motion is supported by several non-parliamentary parties, but working lawmakers have not yet commented. One exception was Sergey Ivanov, also from the LDPR party, who said in press comments that the election threshold should be abolished completely and the seats in the Lower House should be distributed in a simple proportion to the received votes.

In February this year the head of the LDPR party Vladimir Zhirinovsky blamed the past and future street protests on an excessive number of political parties in the country.

We promised that the number of parties will not be limited, they all will participate in elections and they all will be left outside in December 2016,” Zhuirinovsky said in a State Duma speech. “Where will they all go? They will go to Bolotnaya Square!” Zhirinovsky said, referring to the Moscow square that witnessed violent clashes between protesters and police in May 2012. To prevent the conflict he suggested stricter requirements for establishing a political party, in particular a higher minimum number of supporters.

The political reform benefiting smaller parties was put in place in 2012, during Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency. The changes included reducing the minimum number of party members from 40,000 to 500. A minimum requirement on regional branches was also dropped, but parties must be present in at least half of Russia’s 95 federal regions.

As a result, the number of parties in the country surged from just seven in 2012 to over 70 at present. A new parliamentary election is scheduled for 2016.