Russian legislative election, 2016
Legislative elections were held in Russia on 18 September 2016, having been brought forward from 4 December. At stake were the 450 seats in the State Duma of the 7th convocation, thelower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia. Prior to the election United Russia had been the ruling party since winning the 2011 elections with 49.32% of the vote, and taking 238 seats (53%) of the seats in the State Duma.
Prior to the election, observers expected that turnout would be low and called the election campaign the dullest in recent memory.
109,820,679 voters were registered in Russian Federation (including Crimea) on 1 January 2016. Taking into account people registered outside the Russian Federation and the voters inBaikonur, the total number of eligible voters for 1 January 2016 is 111,724,534.
Although the elections had been planned for 4 December 2016, deputies discussed the issue of rescheduling to an earlier date since the spring of 2015, with the second and third Sundays of September or October 2016 as possible alternatives. On 1 July 2015 the Constitutional Court of Russia accepted the possibility of conducting early elections to the Duma in 2016 under certain conditions. According to the Court, the constitution does not require the election date to be exactly five years after the previous elections and the election date can be shifted if the following conditions are met:
- Shifting of the election date does not disrupt reasonable periodicity of elections.
- Limiting of the real terms of the Duma deputies is insignificant (less than a few months).
- Shifting of the election dates is announced in advance, so to give all the parties enough time to prepare for the elections.
On 19 June 2015 the State Duma approved the first reading of a bill to bring the election to the State Duma forward from 4 December 2016 to the third Sunday of September 2016. The corresponding bill was adopted by the State Duma on the second and third (and final) reading with 339 deputies in favour and 102 against, with no abstentions. The document was put together by the speaker of the Duma, Sergei Naryshkin, and the three leaders of the Duma factions, Vladimir Vasilyev (United Russia), Vladimir Zhirinovsky (LDPR), and Sergei Mironov (A Just Russia). The initiative to transfer the date of elections had not been supported by the deputies of the Communist Party, who called it an unconstitutional decision. Earlier, a similar opinion was expressed by the leader of the Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov. The September elections were not satisfactory to the Communists in part because the debate fell in August, "when one will be in the garden, the latter on the beach, others with their children" said Zyuganov. The Russian government supported the bill.
On 17 June 2016 President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the appointment of the State Duma elections on 18 September 2016. From that day parties had the right to start the nomination process for deputies to hold congresses and transmit documents of candidates to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation (CEC) for registration.
For the first time since the controversial and unilateral 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea (from Ukraine), Crimean voters could vote in a Russian general election. Ukraine strongly condemned the vote. The United States and France did not recognize the legitimacy of the election in Crimea. According to Russia correspondent for Al Jazeera English Rory Challands, (on election day) "Despite many Crimeans voting in Russian elections for 1st time, there's little excitement. Main sentiments so far are apathy and cynicism." Scuffles between police and Ukrainian nationalists were reported near polling stations for Russian citizens in (the Ukrainian cities) Kiev and Odessa.
The State Duma will be elected on a single day for a term of five years, with parallel voting that was used between 1993 and 2003. Half of the 450 seats will be elected by proportional representation from closed party lists with a 5% electoral threshold with the whole country as a single constituency. Seats are allocated using Hare quota andlargest remainder method. The other 225 seats are elected in single-member constituencies using the first-past-the-post system.
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