Golos' report on regional and local elections in Russia
REPORT ON THE LONG-TERM OBSERVATION OF THE REGIONAL AND LOCAL ELECTIONS
Russian Federation 14 September 2014
Within just one year, Federal Law No. 67-FZ “On basic guarantees” was amended eleven times. In nearly all of the regions, the final drafts of the regional electoral law were adopted right before the start of the election period. With respect to positive changes, it should be noted that the same law, Federal Law No. 95-FZ, reduced the maximum allowable electoral threshold for regional elections and local council elections from seven to five per cent.
The minimum number of signatures required to register candidates was raised to three per cent of eligible voters in the relevant electoral constituency. This regulation has prevented the registration of numerous candidates and reduced the number of party lists registered for elections.
The 2014 gubernatorial elections have continued the previously observed detrimental trend towards the use of the so-called “municipal filters”. Candidates capable of winning significant support among the voters were excluded from the elections on various pretexts.
Most of the election commissions are in fact dominated by “United Russia” members who were officially nominated by civic organisations or local legislatures.
Since the official campaign period falls mainly in the summer vacation period, the actual election campaigns began well before the calls for elections in April and May. The main candidates having been registered and their most prominent rivals having been denied registration, the intensity of the campaigning dropped sharply in June and in August.
Concerns have been raised by multiple cases involving the prosecution of candidates who appear to have good prospects among voters.
On 1 September 2014, the Moscow City Court overturned the decision to hold the organisation Golos liable under administrative law for allegedly receiving foreign financing despite having failed to register as a “foreign agent”.