Electoral reforms approved by Russian Parliament

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

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.

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