Duma Election Law: Details

Law on Elections of Deputies to the State Duma
(Federal Law of 18 May 2005 No. 51-F3, as amended through 19 July 2009).

Click here for the full text in Russian.

  • 1. PR system
    Beginning with the 2007 election, all 450 Duma members are elected on party lists in a single nationwide constituency under proportional representation (Art. 3). (This replaces the mixed-member system which existed from 1993 to 2003).
  • 2. Threshold: 7%
    The threshold to win seats is 7 percent of the total vote, provided that at least two parties win seats and the combined vote of these parties is more than 60 per cent of the total vote (Art. 82). If the total vote for parties passing the 7 percent threshold is 60 percent or less, then parties with less than 7 percent of the total vote also win seats, in descending order according to their votes, until the total vote for parties winning seats exceeds 60 percent. If one party wins more than 60 percent of the vote, and the other parties less than 7 percent, then the party with the second highest number of votes wins seats also. (In 2003 and previous elections the threshold was 5.0%).
  • Following an amendment to the law in spring 2009, parties winning more than 5% but less than 6% get one seat each; parties with more than 6% but less than 7% get two seats each. These seats are allocated before distributing the remaining seats to parties passing the 7% threshold.
  • 3. Minimum turnout: NONE
    There is no minimum turnout for a valid election. In previous Duma elections, it was 25 percent.
  • 4. Method of seat distribution
    Seats are distributed by proportional representation using the Hare method, that is, the total number of valid votes is divided by the total number of seats to produced a quotient, and each party's total valid vote is divided by the quotient to determine how many many seats it wins. If any seats are undistributed after this, they go to the parties with the highest remainders resulting from the division (Art. 83).
  • 5. Only registered parties compete
    Only political parties registered as such under the parties law of 11 June 2001 are allowed to put up candidates, although up to 50% of each list can be made up by candidates who are not members of the party concerned. The requirements for party registration are stringent, and include a minimum of 50,000 members, branches with at least 500 members in more than half the 83 regions of the Federation and no less than 250 members in the remaining regional branches. After amendments to the law in spring 2009, these requirements are being gradually relaxed: in 2010 and 2011, the minimum number of members will be 45,000, branches with at least 450 members in more than half the regions and no less than 200 members in the remaining branches; from 2012, the minimum members will be 40,000, branches with at least 400 members in more than half the regions and no less 150 members in the remaining branches) The full list of registered parties is periodically updated by the Central Electoral Commission.
  • 6. Party affiliations fixed:
    Formation of blocs of parties is not allowed. (Art. 7). (In previous elections, parties frequently combined to form blocs to increase their chances of overcoming the threshold). In addition, as a result of an amendment to the law (Law No. 93-F3 of 21 July 2005), Duma members are no longer allowed to change their party affiliation after being elected. (Previously many Duma members, especially those elected in single-member districts as independents, changed their affiliations after being elected, with the result that there was a big gap between election results and parties represented in the Duma).
  • 7. Regional division of lists obligatory
    Party lists must be divided into an all-federal group consisting of the top three candidates, and a minimum of 100 regional groups covering the entire territory of the Russian Federation (Art. 36).
  • 8. The CEC evaluates and approves all candidates in 2 stages...
    The process is triggered by the announcement of the election by the President. Within 30 days after the announcement of the election, party conferences nominate LISTS of candidates by secret ballot and present their lists to the Central Election Commission, including information about candidates' citizenship, employment status, property and income. Within seven days of receiving a party's list of candidates, the Commission must certify (zaveryat') the list or reject it if documents submitted are incomplete. A party can appeal rejection to the Supreme Court, which must consider the appeal within five days (Art.38). After certification of party lists, no further changes to the list are allowed, unless a candidate dies or withdraws. The CEC publishes the information about candidates presented in the nomination papers on the Internet.
    After a party's list has been certified, if a party had won any number of seats in the previous Duma election--in 2007 this includes United Russia, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the Liberal Democratic Party, and Motherland--it has the right to nominate a list of candidates. In addition, following amendments to the law in spring 2009, parties with seats in at least one third of the legislative assemblies of the 83 regions of the Federation, have the right to nominate a list. Parties not meeting any of the above requirements must collect 150,000 signatures for the 2011 elections or 120,000 signatures for subsequent elections (Art. 39). For both the 2011 and subsequent elections, no more than 5,000 signatures can come from any one region. For the 2007 election, the number of signatures required was set at 200,000, of which no more than 10,000 could come from any one region. Parties also had the option to pay a deposit equal to 60 million roubles (about $2.3 million), returnable if the party won 4 percent or more of the total vote. Amendments to the law in 2009 abolished electoral deposits in elections at all levels.
    No later than 45 days before the election all parties must FILE nomination papers PLUS any signatures collected in order to register (registrirovat'sya) for a place on the ballot (Art.42). After they have filed their nomination papers, the Central Election Commission verifies the accuracy of the information presented by candidates about themselves, and it is obliged to publicize any inaccuracies through the mass media (Art. 43.6). It also checks the validity of signatures collected. Within ten days after the papers are filed, the Commission must confirm a place on the ballot or refuse it on grounds of procedural or other violations of election law or if a sample of the signatures contains 5 percent or more which are false or invalid. A party has the right to appeal refusal in the Supreme Court, which must consider the matter within five days (Art. 44). The election may be delayed for two months if the requirements for nomination leave less than two parties on the ballot.
  • 9. Maximum expenditure levels
    Maximum permitted campaign expenditures are set at federal level and at regional level. At federal level, the maximum expenditure is 400 million roubles, of which no more than 50 percent can come from the party's own resources, and the remainder must come from individual donations up to a maximum of 280,000 roubles, and donations by organizations up to a maximum of 14 million roubles. At regional level, the maximum expenditure varies from 6 to 30 million roubles depending on the population of the region. Foreign companies, organizations and persons and Russian companies with more than 30 percent foreign capital participation are not permitted to make donations (Art. 64).
  • 10. Period of effect
    In force from 7 December 2006, except provisions concerning announcement of elections (Art. 6), which are in force from May 2005.

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