Fringe Parties Call For Lower Election Threshold

MOSCOW, January 29 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s non-parliamentary parties appealed on Tuesday for the voting threshold for electoral representation in parliament to be dropped to five percent of the vote or lower.


The appeal came at a council of non-parliamentary parties chaired by State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin.


Democratic Party of Russia chairman Andrei Bogdanov, who heads the council’s electoral legislation group, presented the parties’ suggestions for improving the electoral system at the meeting, attended by representatives of 27 parties.


“Non-parliamentary political parties are convinced that it would be rational to lower the election threshold to five percent. Most parties believe that any threshold is redundant,” he said.


A bill to lower the election threshold to five percent was signed into law by then President Dmitry Medvedev on October 21, 2011 and came into force on January 1, 2013.


The bill was adopted ahead of the 2011 State Duma elections, which were followed by a series of protests against alleged vote-rigging and ballot-stuffing. Only four parties managed to pass the seven-percent threshold. None of the parties that failed to pass to the State Duma garnered more than 3.4 percent of the vote.


The majority of parties also want the opportunity to form electoral blocs after the results of the vote are declared, he added. “Most parties also support the legal opportunity to form electoral blocs – the only party that objected was the For the Women of Russia party,” Bogdanov said at the meeting.


“[The parties that failed to clear the parliament threshold] should have an opportunity to form a bloc and create a joint party list in one week, and if they receive more than five percent in total, to take part in the allocation of mandates,” Bogdanov added.


Patriots of Russia Deputy Chairman Sergei Glotov said his party wanted the electoral barrier to be dropped to just 3 percent. “We are for blocks, and for the reduction of the barrier to 3 percent,” he said.


Some parties are convinced Russia should abandon automated vote counting and return to a manual vote count with “both the voting and the ballot count” being broadcast on the Internet, he said.


The non-parliamentary parties also said only transparent ballot boxes should be used during polling.


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