Russia's Medvedev backs lowering electoral threshold

24th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday submitted a bill to parliament on lowering the threshold for parties to qualify for seats in the Duma lower house, the Kremlin said.

"The bill calls for lowering from seven to five percent the minimum percentage of votes the federal list of candidates for Duma elections need to receive to take part in the distribution of mandates," it said.

The change would annul legislation introduced by Medvedev's predecessor, now Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, that in 2005 narrowed entry to the Duma by raising the threshold from five to seven percent.

However the amendments, expected to be rubber-stamped by the parliament, would not come into effect at the next Duma election in December but at following elections, the Kremlin said in a note on the bill.

Putin restricted electors' influence on political life by ending the elections of regional governors in 2004, blaming the risk of terror attacks, and introducing a system in which candidates are proposed by the president.

Friday's move came as Russia is due to have parliamentary elections in December this year, ahead of presidential elections in 2012, with so far neither Medvedev nor Putin giving a clear indication which of them will run.

The bill could smooth the way for representation for minor parties in a parliament currently dominated by United Russia, which is little challenged by nominally opposition parties.

Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov in May offered to lead and revamp a small pro-business party, Pravoye Delo, or the Right Cause, that has called for Medvedev to stand for a second term.

Putin is the overall leader of United Russia, which has an overwhelming majority in parliament, but Medvedev has repeatedly expressed suspicion about the party's domination of Russian politics.

© 2011 AFP

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