The first Statement on the results of long-term monitoring of election campaigns at the local, regional and State Duma elections set for December 4, 2011. The Registration and Nomination Stages

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GOLOS Association conducts independent long-term monitoring of the electoral process. The monitoring is performed by 48 specially trained long-term observers, correspondents of Grazhdanskiy Golos newspaper, and activists of the Association. GOLOS obtains information from mass media, expert interviews with representatives of political parties, NPO leaders, members of election commissions, as well as from citizens who report violations in the course of campaigns – both to GOLOS representatives in person and through the ‘Map of violations at elections’, a joint project of GOLOS Association and Internet periodical Gazeta.Ru.

In its monitoring efforts, the Association concentrates primarily on the following aspects of the electoral process:
1. observation of the citizens’ voting rights and electoral procedures;
2. the election commissions’ activities;
3. use of the administrative resource in election campaigns;
4. ensuring equal opportunities for campaigning to the candidates and political parties;
5. compliance with the procedures for voting, vote count, and announcement of the results.
The present statement is the first in a series of statements on the course of the election campaign. It covers the period from August 30, 2011 through October 25, 2011.
Before the campaign ends, GOLOS will publish at least two more statements on the results of its monitoring of the campaigning (the second statement on December 1, 2011) and of the election day (the third statement on December 5, 2011).
GOLOS Association will also issue an analytical report on the elections, in which it will sum up and analyze all available documents and materials. Special attention will be paid to violations of the principles of free and democratic elections at all stages of the election campaign. GOLOS reports on the results of previous elections can be read at http://www.golos.org/elections.

1. Key Findings
1.1. Election of deputies of the RF State Duma of the 6th convocation

  • GOLOS Association notes that the Federal Law «On Election of Deputies of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation» retained its most negative provisions and, because of the newly adopted amendments, became less democratic.
  • Some innovations may be qualified as positive, including those aimed at ensuring equal terms for all parties in getting rooms for campaign events; minor changes in the procedures for voting by absentee-vote certificates and outdoor voting; and certain guarantees for visually disabled persons.
  • GOLOS Association attracts attention to the fact that the Federal Law «On Political Parties» and its biased application actually destroy political competition, preventing creation of new political parties.
  • Special concern is caused by deprivation of non-partisan candidates of their rights, in view of the fact that the RF Ministry of Justice has in the recent years refused to register all new political parties, with the exception of Right Cause.
  • The present elections have been notable for violations of the judges’ ethical code and Federal Law «On Status of the Judges» which prohibits the judges to be members and participate in activities of political parties and movements, «support them materially, take part in political events».
  • We note, as a positive development, that all seven political parties, which had submitted their lists for registration, were eventually registered.
  • Illegal participation of bodies and officials of state power and local self-government in the election campaign is a typical feature of these elections. The aggregate evidence shows that the administrations (the executive branch) violate the legislation in two principal aspects: 1) perform duties entrusted exclusively to the election commissions; 2) by their actions and resources support one of the election participants.

1.2. Regional and local elections

  • The regional elections set for December 4 provide a bright example of electoral manipulation. Elections of regional legislatures have been on a large-scale basis reset from March 2012 to December 2011, in order to create the most comfortable conditions for campaigning by the ‘government party’.
  • We note the excessive norms of the regional laws on registration of candidates in one-mandate districts and by party lists, in case the candidates or parties submit signatures in support of their registration.
  • We call attention to an obvious contradiction between the provisions of the regional electoral legislation and the law the RF State Duma elections: registration of a party list at a State Duma election has never required signatures of more than 0.2 percent of the country’s voters, while at the regional elections it is necessary to submit signatures of 1 to 2 percent of the voters registered in the territory of the region or electoral district.
  • The undersized amounts of election funds at regional elections make it more difficult to wage campaign by legal means and create privileged conditions for the candidates who rely heavily on the administrative resource.
  • We express our concern with introduction of voting by mail in several regions, because of real impossibility to control either observation of the secrecy of vote principle, or the principle of voluntary voting.
  • Despite Ruling No. 15-P of the Constitutional Court of July 7, 2011 in the so-called ‘Khomutinino case’, the December 4, 2011 elections, first of all elections of representative bodies of local self-government in rural settlements, will be held using the fully proportional system.
  • The Association calls attention to the sharply increased number of abolished popular elections of mayors.
  • A serious error was discovered in the recently adopted Supplement No. 8 to the Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights of the Russian Federation Citizens and the Right to Participate in Referendum». The supplement establishes the form of the signature sheet for collection of signatures in support of candidate nomination at municipal elections. In contradiction to Point 12, Article 37 of the Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights», the footnote of the form does not mention the necessity to indicate the birth date of the signature collector.
  • It is alarming that, under the present requirements to signature collection, little-known parties and candidates are usually registered without difficulty, while registration of really popular and prominent representatives of the opposition is not infrequently turned down. This means that, in the context of the present legal requirements and law-enforcement practices, registration or non-registration to a significant degree depend on good will of the respective election commission and attitude of the respective administration toward the candidate or party.
  • We state that the situation at the elections of regional legislatures resembles the previous regional campaigns: the peak of purges occurs at the registration stage, and representatives of the ‘non-parliamentary’ parties and independent candidates fall the main victim.