The first Statement of GOLOS Association 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
This 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.
GOLOS Association conducts independent long-term monitoring of elections. The monitoring is performed by 48 specially trained long-term observers, correspondents of Grazhdanskiy Golos newspaper, and activists in the Association. GOLOS obtains information from mass media, expert interviews with representatives of political parties, NPO leaders, members of electoral 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 the Internet news site Gazeta.Ru.
In its monitoring efforts, the Association concentrates primarily on the following aspects of the electoral process:
1. Observation of citizens’ voting rights and electoral procedures;
2. Electoral commissions’ activities;
3. The use of administrative resources in election campaigns;
4. Ensuring equal opportunities for candidates’ and political parties’ election csmpaigns;
5. Compliance with the procedures of voting, tallying, and announcing results.
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 to the 6th RF State Duma
- 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 space 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 the creation of new political parties.
- Special concern is caused by the deprivation of non-partisan candidates of their rights, in view of the fact that the RF Ministry of Justice has in 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 principle ways: 1) they perform duties entrusted exclusively to the election commissions; 2) by their actions and support of one of the electoral candidates.
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 small amount of election funds at regional elections make it more difficult to campaign legally and create privileged conditions for the candidates who rely heavily on administrative resources.
- We express our concern over the introduction of voting by mail in several regions, because of the impossibility to control either the observation of the secrecy of vote principle, or the principle of voting voluntarily.
- Despite Ruling No. 15-P of the Constitutional Court on July 7, 2011 in the so-called ‘Khomutinino case’, the December 4, 2011 elections will go ahead as the first set of elections of local governments using the fully proportional system.
- The Association calls attention to the sharp increase in the number of cases of mayoral elections being abolished.
- 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 that the format of the signature form for the collection of signatures for nominating a candidate in 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 applications by popular and prominent representatives of the opposition are frequently 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 the good will of the respective electoral commission and the attitude of the respective administration toward the candidate or party.
- We state that the situation at the elections of regional legislatures resembles that of previous regional campaigns: the majority of the purges occur during the registration stage, and representatives of the ‘non-parliamentary’ parties and independent candidates are the main victims.