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Russia choosing Parliament

04. December 2011. | 08:39

Source: Voice of Russia

Parliamentary elections have begun in Russia. Voting will take place across ten time zones and 9,000 km, from the Pacific coast to Kaliningrad. It was midnight in Moscow when polling stations opened in Kamchatka, Chukotka and Yakutia.

Voting has begun across all Russia’s nine time zones for the country’s parliamentary elections. Russia`s Far East region is reporting a higher turnout compared to the previous parliamentary elections in 2007. At 3 p.m local time, more than 64% of voters have cast their ballots in Chukotka. More than 60% have made their choice in Sakhalin region, while a more than a 40% turnout is reported in Yakutia, Kamchatka and Magadan.
Russian Parliamentary Elections: turnout

This is also the first time when all seven parties registered in Russia were allowed to field their candidates for parliament.

All 450 candidates will be elected proportionally. One seat is said to be pursued by six candidates.

Parliamentary elections have begun in Russia. Voting will take place across ten time zones and 9,000 km, from the Pacific coast to Kaliningrad. It was midnight in Moscow when polling stations opened in Kamchatka, Chukotka and Yakutia.

More than 100 million eligible voters will elect 450 MPs. Candidates from seven political parties are contesting the seats in the State Duma. By 8:00 a.m., 96,000 polling stations will be open throughout the country and at Russian embassies and consulates in 149 foreign states. Polling booths have been put up at airports and railway stations.

Two Russian cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station, Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin, will cast their ballots through their proxies on Earth. This year, fifty polling districts have been named after memorable historical events or outstanding personalities, for example, there is an Immanuel Kant constituency in Kaliningrad. Leonid Ivlev, deputy head of the Central Electoral Commission, told us more about it.

"The history of every region and every Russian city is remarkable in its own way. For example, a polling station in the village of Yasnaya Polyana near Tula was named after the famous writer Leo Tosltoy who lived there. And it only seemed natural that a polling station located next to the legendary Varyag ship & museum should bear its name. In my opinion, this will put voters in a positive mood."

For the first time in two decades, all of the seven registered political parties are running for the State Duma, both the parliamentary “quartet” – United Russia, the Communists, the Liberal Democrats and A Just Russia – and the three outsiders that failed to make it into the Duma during the previous polls – Yabloko, Right Cause and Patriots of Russia. To be able to create a parliamentary faction, a party needs a required minimum of 7% of the votes. This threshold will be reduced to 5% in the next parliamentary election.

Sunday’s voting is widely seen as a test of strength for the parties ahead of the March 4 presidential polls. With 8 candidates per each Duma mandate, this is going to be a tough battle.

About 700 international and half a million domestic observers will be monitoring the elections. Chief election commissioners from more than 20 countries have also been invited. Maya Grishina, a member of the Central Electoral Commission, notes that in Russia, unlike in many other countries, foreign and domestic observers have equal rights.

"Observers can concern themselves with the way the polls were organized. But they have no right to interfere with the voting process or offer their assessment of the elections until the voting ends."

Thousands of polling stations have been fitted out with electronic ballot processing systems.

"This will help minimize the so-called human factor during vote-counting, Leonid Ivlev says. Sometimes, people make mistakes just because they are tired. The electronic system speeds up the process and increases people's trust in elections and, consequently, in the government."

Supervision over the delivery of ballot boxes is being exercised via the GLONASS satellite navigation network. Special telephone hotlines have been set up for voters to report any wrongdoing.

Voting data from all over Russia is flowing to the Central Electoral Commission’s Moscow office. About 2,000 Russian journalists and their colleagues from 30 countries are covering the polls. The voting marathon will be officially over when the last polling stations close in Russia’s westernmost constituencies in Kaliningrad. This will happen at 9:00 Moscow time. Soon afterwards, Chief Election Commissioner Vladimir Churov will announce the first preliminary results.


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