Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ms Jackson-Pettine, who teaches at West Springfield High School in Springfield, VA, asked these good questions:

 "I have been reading some contradictory information about changes (again) to Duma elections.

"I have read the following from credible sources:
"1) there is a proposed law to change back to a mixed PR/SMD system that Putin asked for back in the beginning of 2013 (did this pass?), and

"2) a 2011 law did pass that moved the threshold for party list PR back down to 5% from the previous 7% threshold (did this pass?)."

Here was my response:

On questions like this, I refer to the CIA World Factbook. It's updated regularly, although it's not without error. Here's what it says today, "the State Duma or Gosudarstvennaya Duma (450 seats; as of 2007, all members elected by proportional representation from party lists winning at least 7% of the vote; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)..."

 I also found this UPI story 

Electoral reforms approved by Russian Parliament
Feb. 14, 2014 at 4:27 PM MOSCOW, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Russian lawmakers in Moscow approved a bill Friday to introduce voting for individual candidates in the next parliamentary elections.

Russia's State Duma
The bill brings back direct voting for candidates in elections for half the 450-member Parliament, and eliminates the closed-list proportional system involving party lists, used in the last two elections, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported Friday.

The rules could encourage victories by opposition candidates in single constituencies, but opponents say the bill's real aim is to ensure the ruling United Russia party wins as many seats as possible, RIA Novosti said.

The bill in the Duma, or lower house, is expected to be approved in the upper house and by President Vladimir Putin.

Putin submitted the bill to Parliament last year.

The bill also includes the guarantee of free broadcast air time to all registered candidates, with a maximum budget set at 700 million rubles ($3.3 million) for political parties and 15 million rubles ($500,000) for independent candidates. ===== 
end quote

Then there's the original report from RIA Novosti

Sweeping Electoral Reforms Approved by Russia's Parliament

Vladimir Fedorenko
20:54 14/02/2014

 MOSCOW, February 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russian lawmakers approved a bill Friday to create a mixed electoral system that will reintroduce single-mandate elections in the next parliamentary vote.

The bill submitted to parliament by President Vladimir Putin last year reintroduces voting for individual candidates for half the seats in the 450-member parliament, scrapping the fully closed-list proportional system used in the last two elections.

While the rules could open the way for opposition candidates to win in single constituencies, opponents of the law argue its real aim is to ensure the ruling United Russia wins as many seats as possible.

Candidates running for direct election to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, rather than through party lists, would be required to present signatures in support of their bid from 3 percent of potential voters in their electoral district. Candidates will be allowed to run simultaneously in direct elections and via the party list.

The bill was passed in three readings by the Duma and its progress through the upper house and approval from Putin are expected to be a formality.

In one detail of the legislation that will serve as a blow to smaller parties lacking the resources to ensure nationwide representation at votes, electoral blocs are to be banned.

All registered candidates will be entitled to free air time for electoral campaigning. The maximum elections budget is set at 700 million rubles ($3.3 million) for a political party and 15 million rubles ($500,000) for an independent candidate.

Electoral reforms introduced by Putin in 2003 and 2004 scrapped voting for individual candidates, as well as direct elections for regional governors, leaving the president as the only individual elected directly by voters on a federal level.

Dubbed the “party of swindlers and thieves” by well-known blogger and anti-graft activist Alexei Navalny in 2011 over suspicions of corruption among its higher echelons, United Russia suffered a dramatic slump in popularity ahead of disputed parliamentary polls in December 2011. The party garnered less than 50 percent of the vote in those elections.
end quote 

Given that this change is just happening and won't take effect until 2015's election, I'd go with the old info for this year's exam.

The Second Edition of What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools is now available from the publisher

The Fifth Edition of What You Need to Know is also available from the publisher.

Need less? Just The Facts! is a succinct and direct guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that are important in the AP *Comparative Government and Politics course.

*AP is the registered trademark of the College Entrance Examination Board, which was not involved with the production of and does not endorse any of these publications.

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