Elections in Russia

Elections in Russia

Elections in Russia gives information on elections and election results in Russia.

Russia elects on the federal level a head of state - the president - and a legislature - the Federal Assembly. The president is elected for a four year term by the people. The Federal Assembly ("Federalnoe Sobranie") has two chambers. The State Duma ("Gosudarstvennaja Duma") has 450 members, elected for a four year term, half of them by proportional representation and the other half by first-past-the-post. The Federation Council ("Sovet Federatsii") has 178 members: 2 delegates for each region.

Historical overview

After the fall of the USSR, there have been five elections for presidency and parliament each (see the box at the bottom of the page). In both, the Communist Party first fell to below 20% of the votes, then rose sharply to over 30%, but then over three elections fell again to just over 10%.

In the five presidential elections, only once, in 1996, a second round was needed. There have been three presidents, with Boris Yeltsin elected in 1991 and 1996, Vladimir Putin in 2000 and 2004 (Yeltsin had already relinquished power to Putin in 1999) and Dmitry Medvedev. The candidate of the Communist Party always came in second, first Nikolai Ryzhkov in 1991, then Gennady Zyuganov in 1996, 2000 and 2008 and Nikolay Kharitonov in 2004. Only in 1996 has there been another candidate who gained more than 10% of the votes (in the first round), Alexander Lebed.

In the parliamentary elections, the Communist Party was the biggest party in the 1995 (35%) and 1999 (24%) elections. The only other constant factors have been the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, which has hovered between 5 and 15% of the votes and Yabloko, which won 10% of the votes in 1995 and around 5% in the other three elections. The only other parties that won more than 10% of the votes were Russia's Choice with 16% in 1993, Our Home is Russia with 12% in 1995, Unity Party of Russia with 23%, Fatherland-All Russia with 13% and People's Deputies Faction with 15% in 1999 and United Russia, an alliance of Unity Party of Russia and Fatherland - All Russia, which became the biggest party with 38% in 2003.

Elections legislation

A complement of legislation governs elections in the Russian Federation. Foundationprinciples on which elections and citizens’ electoral rights are enshrined in the Constitution and clarified in the Law on Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Rights of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum (Basic Guarantees). Initially this law was intended to underpin the standards and principles that would govern all elections. As it was enacted in 1994, the Basic Guarantees law also set forth relatively specific procedural principles on which subsequent election laws were to be based. Throughout the years, the law was modified.


These elections were conducted under a number of comprehensive and highly detailed laws and subordinate acts, primarily the Law on the Election of Deputies of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation (‘the Duma Election Law’) and the Law on Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right to Participate in a Referendum (‘the Basic Guarantees Law’). To participate in the elections, parties not currently represented in State Duma must prove their trustworthiness by either gathering a minimum of 200,000 signatures from potential voters, or paying a bail of approximately $2.5 million.


The election legislation includes detailed provisions governing the conduct of electronic and print media during the campaign, inter alia providing for free and paid broadcast time and print space to all political parties registered in the elections on equal conditions for campaign purposes and obligations of state-controlled and private media. The law also requires equal media access for all parties, and that news items on election events must be separate from editorial commentary.

GAS Vybori system

GAS Vybori is an electronic network connecting computer complexes in the elections committee. It was established by presidential decree in 1995 in order tofacilitate election-related activities and to provide internal information for the election administration. The main tasks of the system are: aggregation of the election results, assistance in maintaining voters lists, and provision of financial information for parties and candidates. The purpose of such an automated system is to provide speed and a high level of transparency in the electoral process and to facilitate all election actors, including the ordinary voter, in tracking the election results.

Criticism of recent elections

Since Vladimir Putin became President of Russia there has been increasing international criticism of the conduct of Russian elections. European institutions who observed the December 2007 legislative elections concluded that these were not fair elections. Goran Lennmarker, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said that the elections "failed to meet many of the commitments and standards that we have. It was not a fair election."en icon cite news| author = | title = Monitors denounce Russia election
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7124585.stm | work = BBC News | publisher = BBC | date = 2007-12-03 | accessdate = 2008-05-25
] Luc van den Brande, who headed a delegation from the Council of Europe, referred to the "overwhelming influence of the president's office and the president on the campaign" and said there was "abuse of administrative resources" designed to influence the outcome. He also said there were "flaws in the secrecy of the vote." "Effectively, we can't say these were fair elections," he said at a news conference. [ [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,314591,00.html International Observers Say Russia's Parliamentary Election Not Fair] , Fox News, 3 December 2007]

In February 2008 The human rights organisation Amnesty International said that the presidential election on 2 March would not be a genuine election: "There is no real opposition ahead of the election. There is no real electoral campaign battle," Friederike Behr, Amnesty's Russia researcher, was quoted as saying. In a report on the elections, Amnesty said laws restricting non-government organizations, police breaking up demonstrations, and harassment from critics were all part of "a systematic destruction of civil liberties in Russia." [ [http://www.canada.com/topics/news/world/story.html?id=b126be54-df1a-4a2c-908f-1158bd8ca7a4&k=34165 No opposition or debate in Russia election: Amnesty] ] Another human rights organisation, Freedom House, said that the victory of Putin's party in the 2007 elections "was achieved under patently unfair and non-competitive conditions calling into doubt the result’s legitimacy." [ [http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=70&release=596 Russian Elections Lack Legitimacy; Meaningful Political Competition Absent] ]

The Russian government has acted to prevent international observers monitoring Russian elections. In 2007 the OSCE was prevented from monitoring the legislative elections held in December. [ [http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,517879,00.html Election Observers Unwelcome] , Spiegel Online, 16 November 2007] In February 2008 the European Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights announced that it would not send observers to monitor the presidential election on March 2, citing what it called "severe restrictions" imposed on its work by the Russian government. “We made every effort in good faith to deploy our mission, even under the conditions imposed by the Russian authorities,” said Christian Strohal, the organization’s director. “The Russian Federation has created limitations that are not conducive to undertaking election observation.” [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/08/world/europe/08russia.html?pagewanted=print European Group Cancels Mission to Observe Russian Election, Citing Restrictions ] , New York Times, 8 February 2008] The OSCE has also withdrawn its attempts to monitor the elections.

Latest elections

ee also

* Electoral calendar
* Electoral system


External links

* [http://trendlines.ca/politics.htm TrendLines Election Projections] Chart of Presidential contenders updated monthly
* [http://www1.osce.org/documents/odihr/2004/06/3033_en.pdf Final report on the presidential election in the Russian Federation, 26 March 2000]

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