Duma election campaign lifts off in Russia
( RIA Novosti ) - The election campaign for the lower house of Russia's parliament officially starts Wednesday, less than two months before the December 2 polls to the State Duma.
The Rossiiskaya Gazeta government daily published a decree signed by President Vladimir Putin September 2, officially setting the date for the election race.
This time the polls will be held according to a fundamentally new scheme. Under the new election legislation, all 450 members of parliament will be elected on party lists, with a minimum threshold of 7% for political parties. The law prohibits the formation of election blocs, has removed the option "against all candidates" from ballot papers, and scrapped the minimum voter turnout requirement.
Central Election Commission Chairman Vladimir Churov said the federal budget would allocate over 4 billion rubles (about $160 million) for the event.
Churov also said 15 parties were expected to run in the election, and over 107 million voters had been registered as of July 1, which is 600,000 fewer than the previous Duma elections in 2003.
A poll conducted by the state Public Opinion Center (VTsIOM) suggests only four parties have any chance of passing the 7% barrier to make it to the legislature. These are the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, the Communist Party (KPRF), the newly established left-wing Just Russia, and the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR).