Association “GOLOS” supports a series of initiatives of the President in regard to the changes of laws on parties and elections

10 ноября 2008 г.

On November 5 the President of Russia Dmitriy Medvedev addressed the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.

The President draws conclusions about the colossal scales of the administrative resources, including in election processes. The evaluation of the President coincide with the views of the Association “GOLOS”, which we express in our Statements throughout years.

Association “GOLOS” supports a series of initiatives of the President in regard to the changes of laws on parties and elections

On November 5 the President of Russia Dmitriy Medvedev addressed the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.

The President draws conclusions about the colossal scales of the administrative resources, including in election processes. The evaluation of the President coincide with the views of the Association “GOLOS”, which we express in our Statements throughout years.

The President says: “Meanwhile, the governmental bureaucracy remains the same, as it was 20 years ago, and continues to distrust free individual, free action. Such logic results in making dangerous conclusions and actions. From time to time the bureaucracy “drives into nightmare” the business sector – so that the business would not be able to do something off hand. It takes control over the mass media – so that media would not be able to say something off hand. It interferes with the election process – so that someone unsuitable would not be elected. It puts pressure on courts – so that they would not say something to someone inappropriate. And so on”.

The address contains series of substantial suggestions, in particular, which are aimed at entering changes in the Constitution, laws on parties and elections. Association “GOLOS” in its evaluations outlines some of them.

The increase of the presidential term allowed under the Constitution to six years and of the State Duma’s term to five years

Several times the Association has voiced the proposal to hold the Presidential and the State Duma elections with one year difference. The Association supports President’s idea. However, we think that the suggested terms are too long. In civilized democratic presidential countries and presidential-parliamentary republics the presidential term does not exceed five years. France was only one country in Europe, where seven years term existed. Then France changed this norm and switched into five years term. Today, the presidential term that exceeds five years period exists only in developing countries (in Mexico and Philippines it is six years – with that in both countries the second term for the same president is prohibited; seven years with the right to be elected again is practiced only in African countries and Central Asia). Therefore, we think that it is optimal to increase presidential term to 5 years, and the State Duma’s term should remain the same – 4 years.

Annulment of electoral deposit at the elections

Changes apply to the procedures of the nomination lists presented by the political parties. It has been suggested to annul one of the three procedures, namely, the electoral deposit.

The remaining procedures, parliamentary privilege (it allows the parliamentary parties to automatically run for elections, without signature collection and electoral deposit) and the signature collection (the faults in the signature books should not exceed 10%. Before it was 25%), as they are written in the law literally cross out all the chances of new and oppositional non parliamentary parties to register for the elections. One-sided changes regarding the annulment of the electoral deposit without liberalization of the parliamentary privilege will have negative impact on non parliamentary political parties and independent candidates. As to the liberalization of the procedures on nomination and registration at the elections, the Association “GOLOS” would like to draw attention to following problems:

– Non equal starting level of participation of the political parties at the election campaign (the privileges for parliamentary parties when registering party’s lists and candidates at all levels of the elections) does not allow to speak about the provision of the PRINCIPLE OF EQUALITY for all participants of the election process.

– The allowed percentage of faults in the signature books, which is 10%, is too small (before the Law allowed 25%, and at the latest State Duma elections the allowed percentage was 5%).

– The Law does not draw difference between faulty (i.e. the real signatures that contain technical inaccuracies) and falsified (containing false information) signatures – both are discarded.

– The absence of the clear regulation, transparency of the signature verification procedures and responsibility of the experts that make conclusions leads to the abuse of power by the election committees. Right from the stage of party’s lists registration political parties are put in position fully dependent on the registration body. This creates manipulative principle of allowing parties to take part at the election campaign.

However, the Association “GOLOS” supports the idea that the parties which will manage to gain more than 5% of votes during next elections for the State Duma, or which manage to create fractions in more than third of the regional parliaments should be absolutely free from signature collection.

To our opinion, the measure suggested by the President about “gradual decrease of the quantity of the voters’ signatures enabling to participate at the elections for the State Duma” should be greeted.

Guarantees for the parties to be represented if they gain from 5 to 7% of the votes

No doubt, we should accept as positive step the provision of guarantees for political parties, which have gained small percentage at the elections, and so they can count on the guarantees to gain 1–2 deputy mandates. However such new measure in the election law leads to the reconsideration of the existing principles of the division of the mandates.

We think despite the fact that such suggestions contain certain guarantees for small parties the major change should be about decrease of the passing point for political parties to 5%.

The new regulations on the nomination of the candidates – future leaders of the executive power of the Russian subjects for the President’s approval

Dmitriy Medvedev suggested the following idea – only the parties who have gained the majority of the votes at the regional elections have right to nominate candidates – future leaders of the executive power for the approval of the President. In general the annulment of the public mechanisms of the nominations of such candidates is the right step. The question that remains important is – who will nominate the candidates: regional branches on their own or in practice the decision would be made by the central leadership of the party, thus the decision in regions would be registered only formally. If regional branches will not be able to nominate candidates on their own, then such decision will not improve the situation. However, the principal stand of the Association “GOLOS” is following – the leaders of the executive power of the subjects of the Russian Federation should be elected through direct elections.

The formation of the Federal Council only by the number of individuals, who are elected for the representative bodies of the government and deputies of the local self governing authorities of the corresponding subjects of the Russian Federation

The Association considers that the optimal way to form the Federal Council is to let it to be elected by the citizens.

The representatives of the self governing authorities should be elected with the active participation of both political and non-political unions of the local citizens — human right protection, volunteer, and charity and education groups

We think that it is important to increase the possibility of participation of the public organizations not only at local, but at regional elections. This will allow restoring the institute of the election blocks and public observation.

The minimal quantity of the member organizations necessary for the registration of the new political party should be gradually decreased

The liberalization of the law on parties, we, no doubt, fully support. We think that we should return to the minimal quantity of the party members which is 10000 people.

The address of the President proves the fact that the need for cardinal liberalization of the law on elections and parties is high. The suggested by Medvedev reform of the law on elections and party demands deep public and expert discussion with the involvement of the wide spectrum of the participants.

Association “GOLOS” is ready to get involved in discussion of the suggested changes. However “GOLOS” thinks that the changes of only upper layers of the election law do not suggest deep changes in the contradictions between the regulations of the Russian election law, the Constitution and international law.

The solution to this situation would be the drafting of two principally new laws about political parties and elections. Association “GOLOS” has started in January 2008 the drafting and the public discussion of the Russian Election Code with the involvement of the expert groups.

Press service of the Association “GOLOS”