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Legal Characteristics of the 13 September 2020 Elections

27 July 2020

Analytical report

Contents

Key Findings 

1. Changes in federal electoral legislation 

2. Election scheduling and voting timeline 

2.1. Elections scheduled for 13 September 2020 

2.2. The special aspects of election scheduling 

2.3. Deadlines for candidate and party list nomination and registration 

3. Legal parameters of the upcoming elections on September 13, 2020 

3.1. Legal parameters of gubernatorial elections

3.2. Legal parameters of regional parliament elections 

3.3. Legal parameters of municipal elections 

The elections taking place on the unified voting day of September 13 are the first major elections to be held since the adoption of constitutional amendments and the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions. 

These elections are held in the context where election managers and legislators have clearly abandoned the attempts to improve the level of trust in the electoral system and voting procedure in particular among citizens. It seems like electoral decision-makers opted to use the pandemic in order to make the electoral system even less transparent and prone to manipulations that may go as far as committing electoral fraud. This clearly contradicts the recent public demands to increase real competition, make elections more accessible for candidates and give more consideration to the interests of citizens when it comes to taking decisions concerning the development of the country they live in.

The legislative electoral context of current elections is the worst to occur over the past 25 years. 

According to the CEC of Russia (as of June 22), 8970 electoral campaigns are to take place on 13 September 2020. More specifically, direct gubernatorial elections will take place in 18 regions while two more regions will elect their heads to deputy seats (in Nenets and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrugs). Moreover, State Duma by-elections in four single-member constituencies, 11 regional parliament deputy general elections and 22 general direct elections to representative bodies of regional capitals will take place on the unified voting day as well.

This is the first report compiled by Golos as part of the long-term observation project focused on the September 13 elections. The report will cover legal aspects of calling an election, the timeline for electoral actions, candidate and party list registration, campaigning, voting and vote tallying.

Key Findings



All key expert suggestions to reduce the barriers for candidates, increase electoral process transparency and real competition levels were effectively cast aside this year, despite their being in development over the past few years and drawing support from the CEC of Russia and the Presidential Executive Office at least through statements. The transformation of electoral system took a complete 180-degree turn. The recent changes in federal legislation are mostly aimed at restricting citizen suffrage and eroding public control of elections.

The list of grounds for depriving citizens of the right to take part in the election has been expanded significantly prior to the start of the election campaign. The new grounds include about fifty legal offences described in the Criminal Code. This gives the authorities a chance to eliminate serious competitors by framing up cases that would give them suspended sentence.

Last year's mass calls to make verification process of signatures in support of nominees more transparent, to hold graphologists accountable for the quality of verification and to make the process of nomination through signatures easier in general were ignored by both legislators and election administrators. A set of regulations that further decreased the chances of such candidates to register was adopted instead. Contrary to expert advice of raising the allowed number of invalid signatures, the legislators opted to reduce it. Such decision will inevitably lead to an increased number of rejections in the more competitive regional and municipal elections.  Requiring voters to personally write down their full name on the signature sheets cannot effectively prevent forgery. There will indeed be other ways to forge signatures, yet it gives graphologists more room for arbitrary conduct, as there is still no obligation for them to justify their conclusions and they still cannot be held accountable for said conclusions. 

The adopted amendment to the legislation that allows partial collecting of signatures via the Public Services Portal of the Russian Federation (Gosuslugi ) website is hardly being used. Gosuslugi was used for signature collection in three regions only, but even then Chelyabinsk Oblast (legislative assembly elections)  allows up to 50% signatures to be collected this way while Chuvash Republic and Perm Krai (gubernatorial elections) allow up to 25% only.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was used as a pretext for introducing legal provisions that limited the capacity for public control over the voting and vote tallying procedures. These provisions allow for remote e-voting and for the limits of postal and multi-day voting to be defined by the CEC, including early voting outside the voting premises. The list of grounds for voting at home was made public as well. As the said techniques are outside public control, their mass use will undermine public confidence in vote returns.

Despite years of ongoing discussion about relaxing the "municipal filter," no such thing happened in the current election either. In fact, the issue was not even raised this time. Only 4 regions out of 18 employ the minimum 5% filter while four other regions employ the maximum of 10%. 

Like before, most regions adopted the amended electoral legislation less than a month prior to scheduling. The number of affected campaigns amounted to 29 out of 52 (56%). The lack of legislative stability allows the authorities to manipulate the electoral context in favor of certain candidates and parties and to complicate the preparation process for their opponetns.

One of the examples of such manipulations is the option of gubernatorial self-nomination that has been introduced in five regions. The right to self-nominate  was used by interim governors of all five regions where the legislation allowed it. In all cases, self-nomination was authorized in the last few months before the start of the campaign (only three weeks before the start in Irkutsk Oblast). We can therefore conclude that the option of self-nomination in gubernatorial election is still more of an exception than a rule, and whether or not it is adopted by the regional legislation depends entirely on the "administrative candidate" willing to take such an option. 

Some regional legislations reduce the length of election campaigns for no reason at all by means of setting a late date for candidate registration start. Moreover, the time frames for nominating candidates and party lists are sometimes made unjustifiably shorter. For example, nominating candidates and/or party lists in Rostov Oblast gubernatorial election was only allowed 20 days after the election had been scheduled. As a result, candidates and parties are unable to seek nomination for two or three weeks after the elections were announced. This gives candidates and parties much less time to collect signatures and prepare the necessary documents. In some cases, the deadline for filing the documents was postponed artificially. Based on the time between the start of candidate nomination and filing registration documents, gubernatorial elections in the Chuvash Republic, Bryansk Oblast, Rostov Oblast and Tambov Oblast indicated the strictest deadline (30 days). As for the regional parliament elections, the strictest deadline (30 days) was set in Chelyabinsk Oblast, while the strictest deadlines in municipal elections were set in Nizhny Novgorod and Rostov-on-Don (20 days).

The central government still view gubernatorial elections as a strictly bureaucratic procedure for replacing the highest official in the region, not like a political choice of voters. The central government replaced 10 out of 20 (18 + 2 to be elected directly and by deputies respectively) acting governors with interim governors as early as the election scheduling stage. This means that 50% of the so-called "gubernatorial corps" had been reorganized before the elections even began, although this number is still smaller than in 2017–2019. There is still a continuing trend of appointing politicians and officials that had nothing to do with the region before as governors of said regions (7 out of 10 newly appointed interim governors are in fact outsiders, or the so-called "nomad governors").

Gubernatorial elections were already scheduled for 2020 in six regions out of the 10 where the central government had replaced governors before their term expired. However, in two cases out of said six—in Irkutsk Oblast and Kamchatka Krai—the elections were officially pronounced as snap, although they were essentially planned. As a result, ex-governor Sergei Levchenko was stripped of his passive suffrage while being the top contender for the office. The remaining four elections of the same nature are scheduled as planned. In a similar scenario of 2019, all elections were planned as well.

Since voters are more prepared to vote for the opposition to the "party of power" than usual, regional legislators attempt to distort political representation in their respective regions. Elections of all levels indicate a trend towards reinforcing plurality voting at the expense of proportional representation. For example, 31 elections out of 38 held in towns with a population of over 50,000 use plurality voting system only. Moreover, legislative assemblies force parties to split their lists into multiple local groups in regional and municipal elections. As a result, these groups are strictly confined to single-member constituencies, which distorts local representation. 

Campaign fund spending limits in regional legislation are set in an arbitrary fashion. Naturally, this makes campaign spending per voter parameter extremely varied across regions. Here are some examples: spending limit per voter varies between 16.3 RUB (appr. 0.2 USD) for parties in Belgorod Oblast and 287 RUB (appr. 3.75 USD) in Kaluga Oblast. The average spending limit per voter for candidates in majority constituencies varies between 30.5 RUB (0.4 USD)  in Belgorod Oblast and 583 RUB (7.65 USD) in Magadan Oblast. Understated campaign fund spending limit is one of the major factors that facilitate shadow financing of election campaigns. Lack of financial transparency prevents voters from making informed political decisions.

1. Changes in federal electoral legislation



Compared to 2009–2016, amendments have been introduced into federal electoral legislation at a much slower pace over the past few years. It seems that electoral legislators did not have a clear enough vision for the future at the time. However, the process of amending the electoral legislation was boosted by the approaching 2021 legislative (State Duma) election.

The need to introduce several significant amendments into the federal electoral legislation has been the talk of the public and expert circles for quite some time. The most criticized provisions included the following two groups:

the municipal filter and its components;

unified voting day on the second Sunday in September.

Chair of the CEC Ella Pamfilova agreed with said criticisms on multiple occasions as well. The issue of amending said provisions among others has been discussed at several CEC-organized events.

On 19 February 2019, the CEC held a meeting of the Working Group on Electoral Legislation and Process Improvement headed by Sergey Kiriyenko, the First Deputy Chief of Staff the Presidential Executive Office of the Russia. Supported by the attendees, Ella Pamfilova proposed compromise solutions for the two following issues:

reducing the allowed rate of invalid signatures from 10 to 5% for municipal deputies and heads of municipal entities, and from 10 to 7% for high-level municipal entities (as well as municipal entities of federal cities);

repealing the provision that required observer lists to be submitted to the territorial election commission (TEC) three days before voting day, the provision against assigning one observer to more than one precinct election commission (PEC), but maintaining the rule that restricted the number of observers assigned by one nomination subject to two.

However, neither of these suggestions was adopted in either 2019 or the first half of 2020. The ensuing events show there was a stake on increasing administrative control of the elections, which would put even the slightest relaxations out of place.

The rejection of popular opposition candidates in the 2019 Moscow City Duma elections, which made national and international news played a certain role in creating the current situation. Said incident revealed the disadvantages of signature-based candidate registration system and put the issue of reforming said system up for discussion. The issue made it into the agenda of a meeting held by the CEC's Research and Examination Council (REC) on October 2, 2019. The meeting produced multiple suggestions on reforming the system of registering candidates and candidate lists. Soon after the meeting, a group of 19 REC members (a fourth of the entire council) prepared a memorandum "On the Basic Directions of Reforming the System of Candidate and Candidate List Registration." The measures proposed in the memorandum included restoring the election deposit, modifying the municipal filter, modifying voter signature collection procedure (including e-signature collection), reducing the number of required voter signatures, amending the rules of signature validation (including raising the allowed rate of invalid signatures in signature lists).

On 24 December 2019, the Civic Chamber of the city of Moscow issued ruling No. 8.1-ОП "On Proposals to Modernize the Electoral Legislation fo the Russian Federation" where it supported several proposals made by the REC members, namely allowing collection of e-signatures via the Gosuslugi website; reducing the number of voter signatures required for registration to 0.5% from the total number of voters in the constituency; waiving the requirement for a voter to put down the date by hand as well as allowing third parties to fill in the voter's personal data; raising the limit of excessive signatures accepted by the electoral commission, etc. The following is a comment made by the CEC Deputy Chair Nikolai Bulayev concerning the proposals: 

"The majority of these proposals are either undeveloped or unrealistic, so I believe they will be difficult to both implement and use during the campaign. I remain pessimistic about them for now."

As a result, the CEC and other electoral legislators decided to move in the opposite direction. From the whole range of expert proposals, they only took the one on collecting signatures in electronic form (through the Gosuslugi website), while immediately adding a restriction by stating that no more than half of the required number of signatures can be collected this way (while the law of the federal subject of the Russian Federation stipulates that this bar can be reduced even further). Two more questionable proposals were put forward at the same time: requiring the voter to put down his or her full name on the signature sheet by hand as well as requiring the managing electoral commission to confirm signature sheet format (a letter addressed to the REC members from Ella Pamfilova and dated 20 January 2020 indicates that the CEC supports these proposals). The second proposal does not make much sense. The first is clearly a way for a graphologist to obtain a sample of a voter's handwriting in order to compare it with his or her signature. The new law supposedly intends to prevent signature list forgery, but we believe the goal will not be met. There will indeed be other ways to forge signatures, yet it gives graphologists more room for arbitrary conduct, as there is still no obligation for them to justify their conclusions and they still cannot be held accountable for said conclusions.

United Russia deputies Olga Savostyanova, Dmitry Lameikin, Irina Maryash and A Just Russia deputy Mikhail Yemelyanov introduced the bill with said proposals to the State Duma on March 2, 2020. The bill was expanded with new proposals during its preparation for the second reading. Initially, the managing election commission was supposed to set a fixed number of lines on the signature list (which gave the commissions more room for arbitrary action). The finalized proposal, however, went as follows: "The signature list shall contain five lines for voter signatures and shall be filled on one side only." We believe such severe restriction is unnecessary, since it takes away the opportunity of candidates to make signature lists that fit their specific signature collection needs.

There is a more important new law that reduces the allowed rate of invalid signatures in regional and municipal elections from 10 to 5% (meaning now the rate is equal to that in the federal election). As we can see, although the expert advice was to increase the rate, the legislators opted to reduce it instead. This will inevitably result in an increased number of rejections in the more competitive regional and municipal elections. 

Last but not least, a number of provisions induced by the COVID-19 pandemic were added to the bill, namely those that the CEC introduced during the nationwide constitutional reform vote. The provisions include the option of remote e-voting, removing some restrictions for postal voting (which was provisioned earlier, but barely used to any serious extent), the option of early voting by the CEC decision as well as early voting outside the voting premises, including voting in population centers and other areas with no voting premises or remote areas with transportation issues. The list of grounds for voting at home was made public as well.

All these points are framed as concern for public health during the pandemic. The point is that like any other public event, no election should be held at a time like this either. While holding the election under normal circumstances, however, the focus should be on the fairness and transparency of the vote, which means allowing public control. However, the proposed procedures do not allow for effective control, as was indicated by the all-Russian vote.

The final version of this law was adopted by the State Duma on 13 May 2020, approved by the Federation Council on May 20 and signed by the President of Russia on May 23 as the Federal Law No. 154-FZ of May 23, 2020 "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation."

It should be pointed out that this law was very laconic concerning signature collection via the Gosuslugi website, leaving most of the regulation to the CEC. On 4 June 2020, the CEC adopted The Procedure for Collecting Voter Signatures via the Federal State Information System "Public Services (Functions) Portal." We believe that the signature validation procedure and the grounds for rendering a signature invalid described in this regulatory act is not specific enough.

With the adoption of said law, on 19 June 2020, the CEC adopted a resolution on amending its resolution No. 13/109-7 of 22 June 2016 "On Issues Relating to the Territorial Election Commission Formatting, Accepting and Reviewing Voter Signature Sheets in Support of Nominated (Self-Nominated) Candidate to the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation of the 7th Convocation." However, these amendments make no mention of the requirement of a voter to personally write down his or her full name in a signature sheet.

At the same time, no amendments were made in The Guidelines for Accepting and Reviewing Voter Signature Sheets in Support of Nominated (Self-Nominated) Candidates in the Elections Held in the Federal Subjects of Russia, which were approved by the CEC on June 13, 2012.

In addition to the above-mentioned Federal Law No. 154-FZ of 23 May 2020, five more federal laws regulating elections have been passed in the time after the 2019 elections.

In terms of electoral issues, Federal Law No. 27-FZ of 27 February 2020 "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation" is purely technical: electoral laws do not include provisions concerning the rights of parties that win more than 5% of votes but less than the threshold (because they no longer exist, as the last election using "consolation seats" was in September 2013).

Federal Law No. 98-FZ of 1 April 2020 "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation on Issues of Prevention and Elimination of Emergency Situations," which was adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, provides for the option of postponing elections and referendums in case high alert mode or state of emergency is introduced. The decision is made by the regional election commission concerning municipal elections or by the CEC concerning any elections.

Federal Law No. 151-FZ of 23 May 2020 "On Extending the Digital Polling Station Experiment in By-Elections to the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation of the 7th Convocation and Elections to State Government Bodies of Federal Subjects of the Russian Federation to 2020" extended the 2019 experiment for voting at digital polling stations (DPS) to 2020. At the same time, the law allows other federal subjects besides Moscow to set up their own DPSes, unlike in 2019. They can be used for voting in State Duma by-elections, gubernatorial elections and in elections to the regional legislative bodies as well. Voters can file applications via the websites of Gosuslugi, Multifunctional Center for State and Municipal Services, TECs and PECs.

Federal Law No. 152-FZ of 23 May 2020 "On Carrying Out an Experiment of Organizing and Implementing Remote E-Voting in the Federal City of Moscow" continued the experiment of organizing and implementing remote e-voting in Moscow—the system can be used in the elections to state and local government bodies that are scheduled for 2020—2021.

Federal Law No. 153-FZ of 23 May 2020 “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation”. Initially, the bill allowed for changing the constituency scheme if as of July 1 of the year that came before the year when the general election to a representative body was held there was established a deviation from the average representation norm that exceeded 20%. For the remote and hard-to-reach areas as well as densely populated indigenous areas, the deviation could exceed 40%. This is a reasonable norm that makes it possible to adjust constituency patterns in case the number of voters changes significantly. Thus, the 2014 scheme had to be used in the 2019 Moscow City Duma elections, although the number of voters in one of the constituencies increased dramatically and exceeded the average representation norm by 56%.

In preparation for its second reading, however, the bill was expanded with a new provision unrelated to the said norm. According to this provision, individuals sentenced to imprisonment for committing any of the 50 (petty) offences described in the Criminal Code of Russia were deprived of their passive suffrage within 5 years from the date of conviction removal or expungement. However, it should be pointed out that under Russia's Criminal Code, the severity of a crime is determined by the article under which the individual is persecuted. As evidenced by Alexey Navalny's case, a person charged with suspended sentence may be considered a felon and therefore unable to run in the election, which defies common sense. The list of criminal articles under which a citizen can be deprived of his or her constitutional right has been expanded greatly, which gives the authorities a chance to eliminate serious competitors by framing up cases that would give them suspended sentence against them.


2. Election scheduling and voting timeline



2.1. Elections scheduled for 13 September 2020



According to the CEC of Russia (as of July 22), 8970 election and referendum campaigns are scheduled for 13 September 2020. These include the State Duma by-elections in four single-member constituencies (the CEC statistics considers them as one campaign), 18 gubernatorial elections, 11 general elections to regional parliaments, direct general elections to representative bodies of 22 regional capitals.

Makhachkala and Samara will elect representative bodies of inner-city districts, which in turn will delegate deputies to Makhachkala Urban Okrug Assembly and Samara Urban Okrug Duma respectively. Three districts in Makhachkala use the fully proportional representation system. Nine districts in Samara use the plurality voting system (a mixed system was used in 2015).

In addition to elections in regional capitals, general elections to representative bodies will be held in 7382 municipalities.

Of these, 15 use a fully proportional representation system: five cities (including in Kaspiysk, 55 thousand voters) and one village council in the Republic of Dagestan, the town of Sunzha in the Republic of Ingushetia, six districts of the Republic of Kalmykia, the urban settlement of Gudermes in the Chechen Republic and  Elektrostal Urban Okrug in Moscow Oblast (121 thousand voters).

109 municipalities will use a mixed system: 36 municipalities, 62 municipal raions, two municipal districts, eight urban settlements and one rural settlement. The largest urban okrugs are represented by Vorkuta (Komi Republic, 63 thousand voters), Dmitrovsky (Moscow Oblast, 128 thousand voters), Podolsk (Moscow Oblast, 266 thousand voters), Michurinsk (Tambov Oblast, 67 thousand voters), the closed city of Seversk (Tomsk Oblast, 91 thousand voters).

The list of major cities (besides regional centers) where the elections will proceed under the plurality voting system alone includes Ukhta (Komi Republic, 85 thousand voters), Novocheboksarsk (Chuvash Republic, 99 thousand voters), Anapu (Krasnodar Krai, 152 thousand voters), Armavir (Krasnodar Krai, 127 thousand voters), Novorossiysk (Krasnodar Krai, 228 thousand voters), Sochi (Krasnodar Krai, 368 thousands voters), Berezniki (Perm Krai, 122 thousand voters), Kineshmu (Ivanovo Oblast, 66 thousand voters), Angarsk (Irkutsk Oblast, 183 thousand voters), Obninsk (Kaluga Oblast 88 thousand voters), Shadrinsk (Kurgan Oblast, 54 thousand voters), Balashikha (Moscow Oblast, 357 voters), Arzamas (Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, 77 thousand voters), Bor (Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, 98 thousand voters), Dzerzhinsk (Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, 191 thousand voters), Sarov (Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, 76 thousand voters), Buzuluk (Orenburg Oblast, 64 thousand voters), Novotroitsk (Orenburg Oblast, 73 thousand voters), Orsk (Orenburg Oblast, 181 thousand voters), Volgodonsk (Rostov Oblast, 124 thousand voters), Kamensk-Shakhtinsky (Rostov Oblast, 68 thousand voters), Novocherkassk (Rostov Oblast, 124 thousand voters), Shakhty (Rostov Oblast, 166 thousand voters), Chapayevsk (Samara Oblast, 54 thousand voters), Tobolsk (Tyumen Oblast, 79 thousand voters), Zlatoust (Chelyabinsk Oblast, 121 thousand voters), Kopeysk (Chelyabinsk Oblast, 111 thousand voters), Magnitogorsk (Chelyabinsk Oblast, 313 thousand voters), Miass (Chelyabinsk Oblast, 134 thousand voters), Ozyorsk (Chelyabinsk Oblast, 73 thousand voters), Novy Urengoy (Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous, 71 thousand voters).

Thus, two out of 38 urban okrugs where the number of voters exceeds 50 thousand use fully proportional representation system, five use a mixed system and 31 use plurality voting system exclusively.

845 municipal entities will elect their heads. Rural settlements are clearly the most prevalent; elections of heads of municipal raions and towns become less frequent. Some of the relatively large towns to hold mayoral elections are Montenegrin (the Republic of Khakassia, 53 thousand voters), Belogorsk (Amur Oblast, 52 thousand voters) and Angarsk Urban Okrug (Irkutsk Oblast, 183 thousand voters).

The chedule for major elections (regional state government and local self-governments of regional capitals) can be seen in Table 1.

Table 1. Data on major elections scheduled for 13 September 2020



Elected body (office holder)

Date

of scheduled election

of publishing the decision on election schedule

of last electoral law amendment

State Duma (by-election)

19 June 2020

23 June 2020

23 May 2020

Head of Komi Republic

10 June 2020

11 June 2020

9 May 2020

President of the Republic of Tatarstan

11 June 2020

12 June 2020

27 December 2019

Head of Chuvash Republic

11 June 2020

12 June 2020

26 May 2020

Governor of Kamchatka Krai

10 June 2020

13 June 2020

28 April 2020

Head of Krasnodar Krai administration

10 June 2020

15 June 2020

29 May 2020

Governor of Perm Krai

11 June 2020

15 June 2020

28 May 2020

Governor of Arkhangelsk Oblast

10 June 2020

11 June 2020

29 May 2020

Governor of Bryansk Oblast

11 June 2020

16 June 2020

29 May 2020

Governor of Irkutsk Oblast

10 June 2020

10 June 2020

20 May 2020

Governor of Kaluga Oblast

11 June 2020

15 June 2020

20 February 2020

Governor of Kostroma Oblast

10 June 2020

10 June 2020

18 March 2020

Governor of Leningrad Oblast

10 June 2020

11 June 2020

31 May 2019

Governor of Penza Oblast

10 June 2020

10 June 2020

30 April 2020

Governor of Rostov Oblast

10 June 2020

11 June 2020

10 June 2020

Governor of Smolensk Oblast

11 June 2020

15 June 2020

28 May 2020

Head of Tambov Oblast administration

11 June 2020

15 June 2020

13 December 2019

Governor of the city of Sevastopol

10 June 2020

10 June 2020

29 May 2020

Governor of Jewish Autonomous Oblast

10 June 2020

10 June 2020

22 May 2020

State Council of the Komi Republic

10 June 2020

11 June 2020

9 May 2020

Belgorod Oblast Duma

10 June 2020

11 June 2020

10 June 2020

Voronezh Oblast Duma

11 June 2020

11 June 2020

28 May 2020

Kaluga Oblast Legislative Assembly

11 June 2020

15 June 2020

20 April 2020

Kostroma Oblast Duma

10 June 2020

10 June 2020

18 March 2020

Kurgan Oblast Duma

10 June 2020

11 June 2020

27 May 2020

Magadan Oblast Duma

10 June 2020

14 June 2020

29 April 2020

Novosibirsk Oblast Legislative Assembly

11 June 2020

15 June 2020

8 May 2020

Ryazan Oblast Duma

10 June 2020

11 June 2020

20 May 2020

Chelyabinsk Oblast Legislative Assembly

11 June 2020

15 June 2020

29 May 2020

Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug Legislative Assembly

11 June 2020

13 June 2020

1 June 2020

Syktyvkar Urban Okrug Council

23 June 2020

24 June 2020

9 May 2020

Kazan City Duma

16 June 2020

19 June 2020

27 December 2019

Izhevsk City Duma

23 June 2020

26 June 2020

1 June 2020

Cheboksary City Council of Deputies

23 June 2020

26 June 2020

26 May 2020

Krasnodar City Duma

18 June 2020

19 June 2020

10 June 2020

City Duma for "The City of Astrakhan" municipal formation

23 June 2020

26 June 2020

28 May 2020

Council of People's Deputies for the city of Vladimir

23 June 2020

27 June 2020

03 October 2019

Voronezh City Duma

17 June 2020

19 June 2020

28 May 2020

Ivanovo City Duma

24 June 2020

29 June 2020

29 June 2020

City Duma for "The City of Kaluga" Urban Okrug

23 June 2020

25 June 2020

25 May 2020

Kostroma City Duma

23 June 2020

23 June 2020

18 March 2020

Lipetsk City Council of Deputies

23 June 2020

25 June 2020

11 June 2020

Magadan City Duma

15 June 2020

19 June 2020

29 April 2020

Nizhny Novgorod City Duma

23 June 2020

26 June 2020

4 June 2020

The city of Novosibirsk Council of Deputies

23 June 2020

25 June 2020

8 May 2020

Orenburg City Council

23 June 2020

24 June 2020

22 May 2020

Oryol City Council of People's Deputies

23 June 2020

26 June 2020

4 March 2020

Rostov-on-Don City Duma

23 June 2020

24 June 2020

10 June 2020

Smolensk City Council

23 June 2020

26 June 2020

28 May 2020

Tambov City Duma

23 June 2020

24 June 2020

13 December 2019

Tomsk City Duma

23 June 2020

25 June 2020

5 June 2020

Ulyanovsk City Duma

24 June 2020

26 June 2020

6 May 2020



There were no scheduling issues regarding the elections in the table. All of them were scheduled within the time limits stipulated by law. However, the unprecedented synchronized manner of scheduling requires special mention. Although the law stipulates an 11-day interval between election dates, all 27 regional elections are scheduled over two days—June 10 and 11 (Wednesday and Thursday). 16 out of 22 elections in regional capitals were scheduled for June 23 (Tuesday).

Introducing amendments into the legislation shortly before the start of the election campaign has become somewhat of a tradition, and an unfortunate one at that. The amendments create additional obstacles for candidates (opposition above all), which naturally stifle any real political competition. As can be seen from Table 1, the final version of the law was passed a month or less before the campaign in 29 (56%) out of 52 campaigns.

However, this time the last amendments to the Federal Law "On Basic Guarantees of Voting Rights and Right to Participate in Referendum of Citizens of the Russian Federation" were introduced on May 23, 2020. As a matter of fact, the latest amendments in regional legislations were set off by the need to adjust the latter to the newly amended federal legislation. In some regions, however, the last amendment was introduced for different purposes. Here is an example from Irkutsk Oblast. On 20 May 2020, Irkutsk Oblast deputies amended the law "On Electing the Governor of Irkutsk Oblast" three weeks before the start of the election campaign. Although the amendment introduced the option of self-nomination, the deputies did not consider the federal law amendments on voter signature collection (self-nominated candidates included) that came into force on May 23.

2.2. The special aspects of election scheduling



In September 2020, direct gubernatorial elections will take place in 18 regions while two more regions will elect their heads to deputy seats (in Nenets and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrugs). A new term of office will begin for governors in 20 regions.

24 heads of regions elected in 2015 (21 by voters and 3 by deputies: in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug and the Republic of North Ossetia – Alania) were supposed to complete their terms of office in 2020. However, 8 of them were replaced ahead of time in 2016–2019, which is why only 16 "planned" elections were scheduled for September 2020 (15 elected through direct elections and 1 by deputies—in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug).

However, the list was expanded by the city of Sevastopol, Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Perm Krai and the Komi Republic.

On 11 June 2019 in Sevastopol, Dmitry Ovsyannikov was replaced by interim governor Mikhail Razvozhayev (born in 1980), who was Deputy Minister for North Caucasus Affairs in 2014–2018, occupied several leadership positions in Krasnoyarsk Krai administration in 2008–2014 and acted as interim governor of the Republic of Khakassia between October 3 and November 15 in 2018.

On 21 January 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Perm Krai Governor (since February 6, 2017) Maksim Reshetnikov as Ministrer of Economic Development. The duties of Head of Perm Krai Government were temporarily reassigned to the Fist Deputy Prime Minister Olga Antipina without a Presidential Decree (the executive order was signed by Maksim Reshetnikov), and it was not until 6 February 2020 that Dmitry Makhonin (born 1982) was appointed as interim governor. Makhonin worked in the Perm Krai department of the Ministry of Anti-Monopoly Policy and Business Support (now reformed as FAS—Federal Anti-Monopoly Service) since 2004. In 2009, Makhonin became head of FAS in Perm Krai. In 2013, he moved to Mocow to become head of the Regulatory Department for Fuel and Energy Complex of FAS.

On 2 April 2020, after Nenetsk Autonomous Okrug Governor Aleksandr Tsibulsky was appointed interim governor of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Bryansk native Yurii Bezdudny (born 1969) became interim governor of the region. Bezdudny served as national security agent since 1987 and was appointed Deputy Head of Bryansk City Administration in 2007. In 2013–2014 he served as Vice President of OOO Interactive Bank, then held office as Deputy Head of Administration of Odintsovsky District of Moscow. Since 18 March 2019, Yurii Bezdudny became Deputy Governor of Nenets Autonomous Okrug.

On 2 April 2020, after Komi Republic Governor Sergei Gaplikov resigned from his post, Vladimir Uiba (born 1948) was appointed interim governor of Komi Republic. Vladimir Uiba is Advanced Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor, Head of Federal Biomedical Agency of 16 years (2004–2020), Deputy Minister of Health between January 22 and April 2, 2020. Until 2003, Uiba worked in Sverdlovsk Oblast.

Between the end of April 2019 and April 2020, the central government replaced 6 governors ahead of schedule and elections in 16 regions where the elections were essentially "planned" (including Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug. Moreover, Irkutsk Oblast Governor and CPRF member Sergei Levchenko announced early resignation in December—in 2015, he beat interim governor Sergei Yeroshchenko in the second round. It should be noted that the elections of 13 September 2020 were planned in all these cases, yet they are officially scheduled as "snap" in Irkutsk Oblast and Kamchatka Krai. As a result, Sergei Levchenko was unable to run for Irkutsk Oblast governor pursuant to Subclause 5.2 of Article 32 of the Federal Law "On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights..." The sub-clause states that "A citizen of the Russian Federation who occupied the highest office... and resigned from this office on his free will or because of a no-confidence vote of the legislative (representative) body of state power of the subject of the Russian Federation shall not be nominated as a candidate at the election called because of such circumstances except in the case described in Sub-clause 5.3 of this Article" (Sub-clause 5.3. describes individuals who held the authority of the highest official, exercised this authority for at least one year and received the President's approval to run in the new election in case of early resignation).

On 12 December 2019, after Sergei Levchenko's resignation, Igor Kobzev (born 1966) was appointed interim governor of Irkutsk Oblast. Kobzev served as Head of Chief Directorate of the Ministry of Emergency Situations (MES) of Russia for Voronezh Oblast in 2010–2016, as First Deputy Chief of the Central Regional Center of the MES of Russia in 2016–2017, as Head of the Department of Human Resource Policy of the MES of Russia in 2017–2018. On 1 May 2019, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Emergency Situations—Chief State Fire Inspector. Igor Kobzev is also Lieutenant General of the Interior.

On 12 December 2019, after Aleksei Levintal's resignation, Rostislav Goldshtein (born 1969) was appointed interim governor of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast. Goldshtein served as deputy in the Komi Republic State Council in 2003–2007, as State Duma deputy in 2007–2015 and as Representative of the executive authority of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast to the Federation Council between 22 September 2015 and December 2019.

On 29 January 2020, State Duma deputy for A Just Russia Oleg Nikolayev was appointed interim governor of the Chuvash Republic. He replaced governor Mikhail Ignatyev, who was dismissed by a motion of no confidence.

On 13 February 2020, after Anatoly Artamonov's resignation, Vladislav Shapsha (born 1972) was appointed interim governor of Kaluga Oblast. Shapsha served as Executive Director of Kaluga Oblast newspaper "Znamya" in 2004–2006, Chair and Deputy Chair of Territorial Election Commission of the city of Obninsk and Obninsk Head of Administration in 2015–2020.

On 2 April 2020, after Igor Orlov's resignation, Aleksandr Tsybulsky (born 1979) was appointed interim governor of Arkhangelsk Oblast. Tsybulsky served as both interim and incumbent Governor of Nenets Autonomous Okrug since 28 September 2017. He did military service in 1996–2005 and worked in the Department of Foreign Economic Relations of the Ministry of Economic Development since 2006. In 2008–2010, Tsybulsky was Aide to the Minister of Regional Development. He also worked as deputy director in 2010–2011, Director of the Department of International Relations and Cross-Border Cooperation of the Ministry of Regional Development in 2011–2013, then Director of the Department for State Industrial Program Coordination in the same ministry. In 2014—2017, Tsybulsky was Deputy Minister of Economic Development.

On 3 April 2020, after Vladimir Ilyukhin's resignation, Vladimir Solodov (born 1982) became interim governor of Kamchatka Krai. Solodov taught and did research work at the School of Public Administration of Moscow State University in 2005–2013, headed the Center for New Public Administration Techniques. In 2013, he became head of the Department of Projects and Practice at the Agency for Strategic Initiatives. In 2015–2017, Solodov was Deputy Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District. On 26 June 2018, he was appointed interim Head of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Government and became incumbent on 18 October 2018.

Unlike in the 2017—2019 campaigns, 10 out of 16 heads of regions had retained their positions before the the election campaign started (more reshuffles were expected, but the pandemic-reinforced social and economic crisis likely raised fears of possible management destabilization). These include Rustam Minnikhanov in the Republic of Tatarstan, Veniamin Kondratyev in Krasnodar Krai, Aleksandr Bogomaz in Bryansk Oblast, Sergei Sitnikov in Kostroma Oblast, Aleksandr Drozdenko in Leningrad Oblast, Ivan Belozertsev in Penza Oblast, Vasily Golubev in Rostov Oblast, Aleksei Ostrovsky in Smolensk Oblast, Aleksandr Nikitin in Tambov Oblast and Natalia Komarova in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug.

As a result, the central government replaced 10 out of 20 (18 + 2 to be elected directly and by deputies respectively) acting governors with interim governors as early as the September 2020 election scheduling stage. This means that 50% of the so-called "gubernatorial corps" had been reorganized before the elections even began. This is substantially less than in 2017–2019, when the appointment of technocrat governors was peaking. The replacement rate of 2019 and 2018 amounted to the respective 79% and 73% of regions where elections took place (the rate stood at 50% in 2013, at 39% in 2014, at 33% in 2015, at 55% in 2016, and at 70% in 2017).

There is still a continuing trend of appointing politicians and officials that had nothing to do with the region before as governors of said regions (7 out of 10 newly appointed interim governors are in fact outsiders, or the so-called "nomad governors").

State Duma by-elections will take place in four constituencies: Nizhnekamsky Constituency No. 28 in the Republic of Tatarstan (United Russia deputy Airat Khairullin's passing), Seimsky Constituency No. 110 (United Russia candidate Viktor Karamyshev's victory in Kursk mayoral election), Lermontovsky Constituency No. 147 in Penza Oblast (A Just Russia candidate Leonid Levin appointed Deputy Chief of the RF Government Staff), Yaroslavsky Constituency No. 194 in Yaroslavl Oblast (United Russia deputy Aleksandr Gribov appointed as Deputy Chief of the RF Government Staff).

2.3. Deadlines for candidate and party list nomination and registration



The deadlines for candidate nomination and registration are determined by the corresponding regional laws on a case-by-case basis. Federal legislation only stipulates that the decision to call elections to a body of state power in a federal subject shall be made no earlier than 100 and no later than 90 days before polling day. The decision to call elections to a local self-government agency shall be made no earlier than 90 and no later than 80 days before polling day. Federal legislation also stipulates that the candidate nomination period (which includes collecting voter signatures) shall take at least 30 days in regional elections and at least 20 days in municipal elections.

Regional legislation typically set the starting and closing dates for candidate and party list nomination (which in most cases are the same for both categories) as well as the dates for submitting registration documents. The dates are displayed in Table 2. In the legislation, these dates can be linked either to the starting date of the election campaign (the date of publication of the call for election) or to the voting date. The start of the nomination process is often linked to the campaign's starting date while the deadline for submitting registration documents is linked to the voting date. In this case, the actual nomination period does not depend on the norm of law alone, but on the date when the elections were officially called as well.

Table 2. Deadlines for candidate and party list nomination and registration 


Region or city

Nomination time frame

Document delivery and registration time frame

Registration deadline

Gubernatorial elections

Komi Republic

from 11 June 2020 (electoral association (party)), from 24 June 2020 (candidate) through 19 July 2020

from 19 July 2020 through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Republic of Tatarstan

from 13 June 2020 through 12 July 2020

from 19 July 2020 through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Chuvash Republic

from 24 June 2020 through 24 July 2020

from 14 July 2020 through 24 July 2020

2 August 2020

Kamchatka Krai

from 14 June 2020 through 3 July 2020

from 19 July 2020 through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Krasnodar Krai

from 15 June 2020 through 5 July 2020

from 19 July 2020 through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Perm Krai

from 15 June 2020 through 5 July 2020

from 24 July 2020 through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Arkhangelsk Oblast

from 11 June 2020 through 6 July 2020

from 24 June 2020 through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Bryansk Oblast

from 17 June 2020 through 6 July 2020

from 7 July 2020 through 17 July 2020

26 July 2020

Irkutsk Oblast

from 10 June 2020 through 29 June 2020

from 19 July 2020 through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Kaluga Oblast

from 15 June 2020 through 4 July 2020

from 19 July 2020 through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Kostroma Oblast

from 10 June 2020 through 29 June 2020

from 19 July 2020 through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Leningrad Oblast

from 12 June 2020 through 2 July 2020

from 20 July 2020 through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Penza Oblast

from 11 June 2020 through 19 July 2020

from 19 July 2020 through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Rostov Oblast

from 1 July 2020 through 31 July 2020

from 24 July 2020 from 31 July 2020

9 August 2020

Smolensk Oblast

from 16 June 2020 through 5 July 2020

from 19 July 2020 through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Tambov Oblast

from 16 June 2020 through 11 July 2020

from 12 July 2020 through 16 July 2020

25 July 2020

Sevastopol

from 10 June 2020 through 10 July 2020

from 11 July 2020 through 20 July 2020

29 July 2020

Jewish Autonomous Oblast

from 11 June 2020 through 30 June 2020

from 19 July 2020 through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Elections to legislative authorities of federal subjects of Russia

Komi Republic

from 24 June 2020 through 29 July 2020

through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Belgorod Oblast

from 29 June 2020 through 3 August 2020

from 29 June 2020 through 3 August 2020

13 August 2020

Voronezh Oblast

from 12 June 2020 through 24 July 2020

from 12 June 2020 through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Kaluga Oblast

from 29 June 2020

through 31 July 2020

9 August 2020

Kostroma Oblast

from 29 June 2020 through 2 August 2020

through 3 August 2020

12 August 2020

Kurgan Oblast

from 12 June 2020 through 11 July 2020

from 12 July 2020 through 21 July 2020

30 July 2020

Magadan Oblast

from 15 June 2020 through 14 July 2020

from 29 June 2020 through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Novosibirsk Oblast

from 16 June 2020 through 22 July 2020

through 22 July 2020

31 July 2020

Ryazan Oblast

from 12 June 2020 through 16 July 2020

from 9 July 2020 through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Chelyabinsk Oblast

from 15 June 2020 through 5 July 2020

from 6 July 2020 through 15 July 2020

24 July 2020

Yamalo-Nenets AO

from 14 June 2020 through 13 July 2020

from 9 July 2020 through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Elections to representative bodies of regional centers

Syktyvkar

from 4 July 2020 through 3 August 2020

through 3 August 2020

12 August 2020

Kazan

from 20 June 2020 through 19 July 2020

from 14 July 2020 through 3 August 2020

12 August 2020

Izhevsk

from 4 July 2020 through 3 August 2020

through 3 August 2020

12 August 2020

Cheboksary

from 26 June 2020 through 3 August 2020

through 3 August 2020

12 August 2020

Krasnodar

from 20 June 2020 through 29 July 2020

through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Astrakhan

from 27 June 2020 through 27 July 2020

through 27 July 2020

5 August 2020

Vladimir

from 29 June 2020 through 29 July 2020

through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Voronezh

from 20 June 2020 through 24 July 2020

through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Ivanovo

from 29 June 2020

through 3 August 2020

12 August 2020

Kaluga

from 26 June 2020 through 19 July 2020

through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Kostroma

from 9 July 2020 through 2 August 2020

through 3 August 2020

12 August 2020

Lipetsk

from 26 June 2020 through 26 July 2020

through 3 August 2020

12 August 2020

Magadan

from 19 June 2020 through 24 July 2020

through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Nizhny Novgorod

from 9 July 2020 through 29 July 2020

through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Novosibirsk

from 26 June 2020 through 22 July 2020

through 22 July 2020

31 July 2020

Orenburg

from 25 June 2020

through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Oryol

from 26 June 2020 through 20 July 2020

through 29 July 2020

9 August 2020

Rostov-on-Don

from 11 July 2020 through 31 July 2020

through 31 July 2020

9 August 2020

Smolensk

from 27 June 2020 through 29 July 2020

through 29 July 2020

7 August 2020

Tambov

from 25 June 2020 through 15 July 2020

from 21 July 2020 through 30 July 2020

8 August 2020

Tomsk

from 4 July 2020 through 31 July 2020 (single constituency); from 14 July 2020 through 4 August 2020 (single-member constituency)

through 3 August 2020 (single constituency); through 4 August 2020 (single-member constituency)

12 August 2020 (single constituency); 13 August 2020 (single-member constituency)

Ulyanovsk

from 26 June 2020 through 26 July 2020

through 31 July 2020

9 August 2020


Candidate nomination process is typically launched on the date the election was called or the date after. Some legislations, unduly delay the start of the nomination. For example, candidate and/or party list nomination in the Chuvash Republic gubernatorial election was allowed to start only 12 days after the election was called; in the Komi Republic election to the City Council and Nizhny Novgorod City Duma election—13 days after; in the Legislative Assembly election in  Kaluga Oblast—14 days after; in Kostroma City Duma election—16 days after; in Rostov-on-Don City Duma election—17 days after; in Belgorod Oblast Duma election—18 days after; in Kostroma Oblast Duma (as well as Tomsk City Duma)—19 days after; in Rostov Oblast gubernatorial election—20 days after. As a result, candidates and parties were unable to nominate for two to three weeks after the elections were called. In fact, the election campaign duration is artificially reduced, since there is no actual campaigning before the candidates and lists are nominated. At the same time, the signature collection phase shifts from June to July—the vacation season.

In some cases, the deadline for filing the documents was postponed artificially. For example, the Komi Republic electoral legislation on electing the head of the region allows nomination after the date the election is officially called (June 11 in this campaign), but the nomination statement could be submitted to the Komi Republic Election Commission no earlier than 80 days before the polling day, meaning not before June 24.

In many legislations, nomination closing date coincides with the deadline for submitting registration documents. Gubernatorial elections are the only exception to this rule, since the nomination phase does not involve municipal deputy signature collection. For some elections, certain legislations set a short gap between the nomination and registration document submission closing dates (for example, a five-day gap in Voronezh and Ulyanovsk Oblasts), which seems reasonable. In some regions, however, there is a more than two-week gap (15 days in the city council elections in Kazan and Tambov as well as in Magadan Oblast Duma, 16 days in Yamalo-Nenets AO Legislative Assembly elections). Such a wide gap can hardly be justified, especially since candidates and parties do not have to collect signatures.

Based on the time between the start of candidate nomination and filing registration documents, gubernatorial elections in the Chuvash Republic, Bryansk Oblast, Rostov Oblast and Tambov Oblast indicated the strictest deadline (30 days). In regional parliament elections, Chelyabinsk Oblast has the strictest deadline (30 days). In the municipal elections, Nizhny Novgorod and Rostov-on-Don have the strictest deadline (20 days).


3. Legal parameters of the upcoming elections on September 13, 2020


3.1. Legal parameters of gubernatorial elections

For 16 regions (Republic of Tatarstan, Chuvash Republic; Kamchatka, Krasnodar and Perm Krais; Arkhangelsk, Irkutsk, Kaluga, Kostroma, Leningrad, Penza, Rostov, Smolensk and Tambov Oblasts; Sevastopol; Jewish Autonomous Oblast), these are the second gubernatorial elections since their restoration in 2012, while for two regions (Komi Republic and Bryansk Oblast) they are the third. Previous elections were held in 2015 in the Republic of Tatarstan, Chuvash Republic, Kamchatka Krai, Krasnodar Krai, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Bryansk Oblast, Irkutsk Oblast, Kaluga Oblast, Kostroma Oblast, Leningrad Oblast, Penza Oblast, Rostov Oblast, Smolensk Oblast, Tambov Oblast and Jewish Autonomous Oblast, in 2016—in the Komi Republic, in 2017—in Perm Krai and Sevastopol.

As we pointed out in Section 1, there were multiple attempts to change the candidate registration procedure for gubernatorial elections, especially to reduce the municipal filter. Moreover, there were suggestions to entrench the right to self-nominate in the federal legislation. However, all attempts to change federal legislation in this regard failed, and the federal procedure for gubernatorial elections remains unchanged since its establishment in 2012.

There have been certain changes in regional legislation. Five regions (Komi Republic, Chuvash Republic, Kamchatka Krai, Perm Krai, Irkutsk Oblast) have allowed self-nomination (see Table 3). Self-nomination was previously (during 2012—2018) allowed in five regions only (Kemerovo, Kirov, Omsk, Tula Oblasts and Moscow), with Primorsky Krai joining in before the repeat election in December 2018. Right to self-nominate appeared in seven more regions before the 2019 election, namely in Zabaykalsky Krai, Astrakhan, Kurgan, Murmansk, Sakhalin, Chelyabinsk Oblasts and Saint-Petersburg. As a result, the right to self-nominate in gubernatorial elections is still more of an exception than a rule.

In nearly every region (with the exception of the Kemerovo and Murmansk regions), the right to self-nominate was prompted by the desire of the incumbent head (or interim head) to run as an independent candidate. The present campaign is no exception: the right to self-nominate was used by interim governors of all five regions where the legislation allowed it. All decisions on allowing self-nomination were taken in the last few months before the start of the campaign: the law was passed on 2 March 2020 in the Chuvash Republic, on 22 April 2020 in Perm Krai, on 28 April 2020 in Kamchatka Krai, on 9 May 2020 in the Komi Republic, on 20 May 2020 in Irkutsk Oblast.

Table 3. Main characteristics of gubernatorial direct elections


Region

Self-nomination

"Municipal filter"

Campaign fund "ceiling," mln. RUB (USD)

share of signatures of all deputies and heads

number of signatures of all deputies and heads

share of top-level signatures

number of top-level signatures

¾ top-level municipal entities

Komi Republic

yes

10%

180

10%

40

15

50

Republic of Tatarstan

no

5%

387

5%

96

34

100

Chuvash Republic

yes

7%

263

10%

55

20

100

Kamchatka Krai

yes

10%

58

10%

25

11

25

Krasnodar Krai

no

10%

776

10%

123

33

100

Perm Krai

yes

6%

102

6%

50

35

99.9521

Arkhangelsk Oblast

no

8%

189

8%

43

21

100

Bryansk Oblast

no

7%

215

7%

51

24

50

Irkutsk Oblast

yes

5%

252

5%

40

32

120

Kaluga Oblast

no

5%

132

5%

25

20

40

Kostroma Oblast

no

8%

114

8%

45

22

100

Leningrad Oblast

no

7%

155

10%

44

14

70

Penza Oblast

no

8%

253

8%

42

23

150

Rostov Oblast

no

5%

228

5%

60

42

200

Smolensk Oblast

no

7%

140

7%

31

21

50

Tambov Oblast

no

7%

183

7%

48

23

50

Sevastopol

no

10%

9

8

100

Jewish Autonomous Oblast

no

7%

27

7%

7

5

5


We believe that the right to self-nomination should be granted in all regions as well as guaranteed by federal law. Granting this right only in certain regions and out of purely populist reasons violates the principle of uniform legal regulation of citizens' rights and freedoms and hinders real political competition.

The required share of voter signatures amounts to 0.5% in the Chuvash Republic and Irkutsk Oblast, 1% in the Komi Republic and Perm Krai, and 2% in Kamchatka Krai. In the Chuvash Republic and Perm Krai, the law allows collection of signatures through the Gosuslugi website. In both regions, the number of voter signatures collected through Gosuslugi should not exceed 25% of the number of voter signatures required for registering a candidate.

As for deputy signatures (meaning the municipal filter), this filter has to be passed in nearly every locality, except in federal cities (in this campaign it is Sevastopol), as well as in regions without settlements (no such regions in this campaign). The filter has three "layers":

  1. the need to collect a certain percentage (5 to 10%) of signatures from the total number of municipal deputies and elected heads;
  2. the signatures have to include a certain percentage of the total number of deputies in the representative bodies of municipal raions and urban okrugs as well as elected heads of municipal raions and urban okrugs (5 to 10% as well); this "layer" is present everywhere except federal cities and regions that have no settlement-type municipal entities (in this campaign, this federal city is Sevastopol);
  3. the candidate also has to collect these signatures in at least three fourth of municipal raions and urban okrugs in the region (meaning at least one signature from a raion, so that this raion is found in the candidate's statistics).

Regional legislations define only two parameters out of the three: the percentage from the total number of municipal deputies and heads, and the percentage from the number of top-level municipal deputies and heads (meaning those in municipal raions and urban okrugs) within the framework established by federal legislation.

As we pointed out in Section 1, in February 2019 United Russia and the Presidential Executive Office agreed to reduce the municipal filter to 5% for the total number of signatures and to 7% for the top-level municipal entities or inner-city municipal entities. However, these proposals did not get into federal legislation. At the same time, there was hope that the reduction would be at least partially implemented in regional legislations. In 2019, Chair of the CEC of Russia Ella Pamfilova deliberately appealed to legislative and executive authorities of federal subjects with elections scheduled for 2019.

The appeal did not take any effect, however. This year, the question was not even raised. As can be seen in Table 3, only four regions out of 18 employ the 5% filter (Republic of Tatarstan, Irkutsk Oblast, Kaluga Oblast and Rostov Oblast), while four more regions (Komi Republic, Kamchatka Krai, Krasnodar Krai and Sevastopol) employ the maximum possible filter. Besides, two regions (Chuvash Republic and Leningrad Oblast) require 10% from the number of top-level deputies and heads of municipal entities. At the same time there is Krasnodar Krai—a region with a vast population and a large number of municipal entities—where the 10% requirement results in an obviously extreme absolute number of signatures: 776 signatures from all deputies and 123 signatures of top-level deputies.

The analysis revealed that the municipal filter parameters have not changed since the previous election. As for the absolute number of signatures, the top-level deputy number did not change much, while the total number of signatures has been reduced significantly in certain regions. This is indicative of a decreased number of deputies: 287 to 263 in the Chuvash Republic, 234 to 102 in Perm Krai, 220 to 189 in Arkhangelsk Oblast, 239 to 215 in Bryansk Oblast, 159 to 114 in Kostroma Oblast, 257 to 228 in Rostov Oblast, 221 to 140 in Smolensk Oblast, 221 to 183 in Tambov Oblast and 12 to 9 in Sevastopol.

The limit for campaign fund expenditures per voter is extremely varied (see Figure 1). The highest number (315 RUB or appr. 4.11 USD) was registered in Sevastopol. The lowest number (23.9 RUB or appr. 0.31 USD) was registered in Krasnodar Krai.


Compared to previous elections, the campaign fund "ceiling" heightened in the Republic of Tatarstan, the Chuvash Republic, Krasnodar Krai (where it was very low in 2015), Arkhangelsk, Irkutsk, Kostroma, Penza and Tambov Oblasts. In the rest of the regions, the number remained unchanged.

3.2. Legal parameters of regional parliament elections



Regional parliament elections were planned in all 11 regions, meaning they were scheduled in light of the corresponding legislative assemblies expiring. Previous elections in these regions were held on September 13, 2015.

Like in 2015, all regions use a mixed electoral system (see Table 4). At the same time, 10 regions maintain the same proportions of plurality voting and proportional representation systems (total number of deputies in Ryazan Oblast has increased from 36 to 40, so the proportions increased from 18 to 20). Kostroma Oblast is the only region where the proportions were equal in 2015 (18:18), yet this time the number of majority seats increased while the number of list-based seats decreased (the total number of deputies also decreased by 1).

Table 4. Main parameters of the electoral system in regional parliament elections


Region

Total number of deputies = elected under proportional representation + plurality voting system

Seat allocation method

Komi Republic

30 = 15 + 15

Imperiali quota

Belgorod Oblast

50 = 25 + 25

Tyumen

Voronezh Oblast

56 = 28 + 28

Tyumen

Kaluga Oblast

40 = 20 + 20

Tyumen

Kostroma Oblast

35 = 10 + 25

Imperiali quota

Kurgan Oblast

34 = 17 + 17

Imperiali quota

Magadan Oblast

21 = 11 + 10

Tyumen

Novosibirsk Oblast

76 = 38 + 38

Tyumen

Ryazan Oblast

40 = 20 + 20

Tyumen

Chelyabinsk Oblast

60 = 30 + 30

Tyumen

Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug

22 = 11 + 11

Tyumen


Let us recall that the so-called "Klishas law" adopted in fall 2013 allowed to reduce the proportional representation part to 25% in all regions except federal cities. Federal cities (as well as municipal elections) were allowed to use an all-out plurality voting system.

The law was passed in the context of United Russia's falling approval rating, so its purpose was to preserve the party's predominance in regional and municipal representative bodies, and plurality voting provides more advantages in this scenario. However, the popularity of the "party of power" was on the rise once more following the 2014 events in Ukraine. At the same time, the party of power and parliamentary opposition parties reached the so-called "Crimean consensus." As a result, the "Klishas law" did not really interfere with regional parliament elections (as opposed to municipal elections) until 2019. The only exception is Moscow, which switched to an all-out plurality voting system in 2014. However, between 2014 and 2018, the proportional component was not dramatically reduced anywhere else other than Moscow. "Klishas law" was only used in two regions to make the number of deputies elected under the proportional representation system one less than the number of single-member constituencies.

In 2019, the proportional component was reduced to one third or one fourth in four regions at once (Altai Republic, Mari El Republic, Khabarovsk Krai and Tula Oblast). However, United Russia ended up at a loss in Khabarovsk Krai by winning only two seats out of 36. This time, the proportional component was reduced only in Kostroma Oblast (to 29%).

After the maximum threshold for getting a seat was set to 5% for parties, any variety for this parameter disappeared from the regional elections. None of the regions are willing to set the barrier lower than 5%.

As for the method of seat allocation, the past election cycle saw an almost universal shift to the divisor method. None of the regions use the easiest and fairest Hare quota (the largest remainder method) in this electoral cycle. Eight regions chose the so-called "Tyumen method": first, every party list admitted to seat allocation is given one seat, and the remaining seats are then allocated using the Imperiali quota. This method ensures that each list that passed the threshold receives at least one seat. At the same time, this method often (although not always) gives an advantage to the leading party as opposed to using the Hare method.

Three regions continue to use the Imperiali method, although this one (as it has been proven) cannot be considered as a method of proportional seat allocation, since it gives clear advantages to the leading party. It has been established that using the Imperiali quota may result in a party that received more than 5% of votes not receiving any seats at all after allocation. The calculation shows that this is possible if the number of allocated seats is less than 37. In other words, this applies to all three regions. In order to avoid violating the Federal Law, the legislations of these regions provide for a correction in case a party that passes the threshold does not receive any seats. Two different correction methods are used in such a case.

Kurgan Oblast legislation stipulates the following correction method: "The number of deputy seats owed to candidate lists that received the maximum and every further number (specified in Clauses 2 and 3 of this Article) in descending order (but more than one seat) shall be therefore decreased by one seat. If two or more candidate lists received an equal number of parliamentary seats, first to be reduced is the number of deputy seats won by the candidate list with the least number of votes. The number of seats shall be decreased until the number of released seats is becomes equal to the number of candidate lists that were admitted to seat allocation, but did not get any seats. The released seats are then by ones allocated to candidate lists that were admitted to seat allocation, but did not get any seats." The Electoral Code of Kostroma Oblast contains a similar but more concise norm. In other words, the list that did nor get any seats through the Imperiali quota receives a seat from the leading party, which seems quite fair in this case.

The law "On Elections and Referendums in the Komi Republic" provides that candidate lists that were admitted to seat allocation yet did not win any seats "receive one seat each from candidate lists that won more than one deputy seat. Seats are distributed starting with the candidate list with the least votes." In other words, the Komi Republic legislation is much more elusive and clearly unfair. If such a scenario unfolds in Kurgan or Kostroma Oblasts (like in many other regions), United Russia becomes the party that has to sacrifice a seat gained by breaking the proportionality principle, which makes seat allocation more fair. On the other hand, if the same scenario unfolds in the Komi Republic, its legislation expects a party that has likely gained only two seats to sacrifice one of them. As a result, seat allocation gets even further away from proportional.

Table 5 describes the rules for forming party lists. The minimum and maximum numbers of candidates in the list are not only those specified in the law, but also those calculated from the norms of the law.

Table 5. Splitting party lists into territorial groups


Region

Number of territorial groups

The number of candidates in

The number of candidates on the list

heartland

territorial group

min

max

Komi Republic

8–15

1–3

3–5

25

78

Belgorod Oblast

6–12

1–3

3–5

19

63

Voronezh Oblast

14–28

1–3

at least 3

43

87

Kaluga Oblast

10–20

1–3

4–6

41

123

Kostroma Oblast

3–5

3–5

10

25

Kurgan Oblast

9–17

3–10

27

170

Magadan Oblast

6–10

1–3

3–6

19

63

Novosibirsk Oblast

19–38

1–3

2–4

39

155

Ryazan Oblast

15–20

1–3

3–4

46

83

Chelyabinsk Oblast

15–30

1–3

2–4

31

120

Yamalo-Nenets AO

6–11

3–5

18

55


As can be seen from the table, all 11 regions split party lists into territorial groups.

We have repeatedly pointed out that splitting lists into territorial groups may be justified in large and heterogeneous areas, while doing so in small homogeneous areas results in more disadvantages than advantages in terms of protecting voter interests. In such cases, seat allocation is typically a consequence of a conjuncture and blatant manipulation.

It should be noted that most regions chose the more stringent option: the groups are confined to specific single-member constituencies and cannot be joined together. In other words, the lists have to be split into a large number of groups. Our analysis shows that rules as rigid as these have the effect that is opposite to the one proclaimed: territorial representation is distorted, as some areas receive a surplus of seats, while others receive none. The election results (meaning the final deputy "line-up"), too, become more susceptible to tallying errors as well as election fraud. As a result, real competition takes place between the local administrative resources instead of between candidates. That is why experts have repeatedly advocated the concept of splitting lists into a small number of large groups, whose boundaries would include different municipal entities, which would reduce the impact of manipulation and risks of disproportionate territorial representation.

There are four exceptions to this ultra-rigid scheme. The Komi Republic and Novosibirsk Oblast legislations allow to join the territories of two bordering single-member constituencies into one group. This in turn allows parties to split their lists into a smaller number of parties that nevertheless cover the entire region. In addition, parties can choose the constituencies as they see fit.

In Belgorod Oblast, separate sets of 25 deputies are elected in single-member constituencies and per party lists. To form the groups, the region has to be split into 12 parts that should be roughly equivalent in the number of registered voters with an allowed voter representation deviation of 10% from the average (the deviation can be raised to 20% to avoid carve-ups of municipal entities). As a result, the regional election commission had to divide one single-member constituency between two parts. The remaining parts are formed from two single-member constituencies.

In Kostroma Oblast, where the number of list-based seats has been reduced to 10, and the number of single-member constituencies has been increased to 25, the territory was divided into 5 parts, with 5 single-member constituencies in each. Here, the scheme is as rigid as in Belgorod Oblast: the party may choose any parts they see fit, but may neither unite or split them.

Previously, it was rare when lists were required to be split into territorial groups completely, without the region-wide part. In the current campaign, three regions—Kostroma Oblast, Kurgan Oblast and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug—opted to do that. On the one hand, the region-wide part allows the leader of the party's regional branch to be elected, which is important for opposition parties; on the other hand, it triggers the "locomotive" strategy. However, if United Russia has no obvious "locomotives" in the region, it is tempted to establish the rules that put the opposition at a disadvantage.

The laws in question either provide for a minimum number of candidates on the list, or said minimum is derived from the number of territorial groups and the minimum number of candidates there. It should be noted that in most regions the minimum number of candidates on the list turns out to be more than the number of seats allocated in a single district (exceptions are Kostroma Oblast, where these numbers are equal, and Belgorod Oblast, where the minimum number of candidates is smaller). The legislations of Kaluga and Ryazan Oblasts stand out the most in this case, as they force parties to put 2.1 and 2.3 times more candidates on the list than the number of allocated seats (at the expense of the requirement to include at least three or four candidates into each group). In reality, this ratio is even higher, as majore parties are ready and willing to split their lists into the largest number of groups possible in order to cover all areas. As a result, they will have to put four times more candidates on the list than there are mandates in Kaluga Oblast. Such rigid rules force parties to fill the lists with many candidates who obviously have no chance of being elected and are therefore not very interested in electoral success; besides, this increases the burden on the party and its apparatus (both organizational and financial). We assume that the requirement for parties to nominate an excessive number of candidates is in fact a type of financial and organizational barrier.

There is a marked diversity with regard to campaign fund limits (see Table 6). Here are some examples: spending limit per voter varies between 16.3 RUB (appr. 0.2 USD) for parties in Belgorod Oblast and 287 RUB (appr. 3.75 USD) in Kaluga Oblast. The average spending limit per voter for candidates in majority constituencies varies between 30.5 RUB (0.4 USD)  in Belgorod Oblast and 583 RUB (7.65 USD) in Magadan Oblast (see Figures 2 and 3).

Table 6. Campaign fund limits



Region

Number of voters as of 1 January 2019

Number of single-member constituencies

Campaign fund limit, mln. RUB (USD)

for party

for candidate

Komi Republic

661,474

15

60

10

Belgorod Oblast

1,229,024

25

20

1.5

Voronezh Oblast

1,851,548

28

92.5

3.3

Kaluga Oblast

800,325

20

230

10

Kostroma Oblast

526,558

25

60

5

Kurgan Oblast

695,038

17

50

4

Magadan Oblast

102,830

10

22

6

Novosibirsk Oblast

2,150,372

38

200

7

Ryazan Oblast

908,154

20

60

7

Chelyabinsk Oblast

2,618,317

30

90

6

Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug

360,891

11

50

5



In nine regions, the campaign fund "ceiling" per voter is higher for a candidate than for a party. They are the same in Voronezh Oblast, yet the party "ceiling" is higher in Kaluga Oblast.

Four parliamentary parties have the registration privilege in all regional parliament elections, meaning they do not have to collect signatures to register candidates or party lists.

Besides, certain federal subjects  grant this privilege in regional parliament elections to the following two categories of parties:

  1. parties that won at least 3% of votes in the latest election of the same nature;
  2. parties whose lists were admitted to seat allocation based on the results of the latest election to representative bodies of municipal entities on at least one occasion;
  3. parties whose lists (in sum) won at least 0.5% of the total number of registered voters in the region in the latest election to representative bodies of municipal entities.

In the current campaign, only four parliamentary parties in four regions (Kurgan, Ryazan and Chelyabinsk Oblasts as well as Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug) have this privilege. Between 5 and 7 parties have the registration privilege in the remaining regions (see Table 7).

Table 7. Parties with privilege in certain regions


Region

Number of parties with privilege

Parties with privilege
(besides parliamentary parties)

Komi Republic

6

Communists of Russia, Rodina

Belgorod Oblast

7

Patriots of Russia, RPPSJ, Cossack Party of Russian Federation

Voronezh Oblast

5

Rodina

Kaluga Oblast

5

Communists of Russia

Kostroma Oblast

6

Yabloko, Communists of Russia

Kurgan Oblast

4

Magadan Oblast

5

RPPSJ

Novosibirsk Oblast

5

Rodina

Ryazan Oblast

4

Chelyabinsk Oblast

4

Yamalo-Nenets AO

4


In Chelyabinsk Oblast, the legislation allowed signature collection via the Gosuslugi website. The number of voter signatures collected through Gosuslugi should not exceed 50% of the number of voter signatures required for registering a candidate or a candidate list.



3.3. Legal parameters of municipal elections



There are no direct mayoral elections in regional capitals in the current campaign. This type of election was forcibly abolished in 2014–2015 after the Federal Law No. 136-FZ of 27 May 2014 "On General Principles of Organization of Legislative (Representative) and Executive Bodies of State Power of the Subjects of the Russian Federation" and Federal Law "On the General Principles of the Organization of Local Self-Government in the Russian Federation" greatly enhanced the capacity of regional authorities to establish the structure and procedure for electing municipal authorities without their agreement.

Elections to representative bodies of regional capitals are held in the same cities as in 2015 (22 cities).

As we pointed out before, the so-called "Klishas law" was adopted in fall 2013, which abolished the requirement (adopted in spring 2011) for the obligatory proportional component in the elections held in major urban okrugs and municipal raions. Only 6 out of 20 regional capitals used a mixed system in 2014. Abolishing this system struck a heavy blow at the chances of political parties (parliamentary parties above all, namely CPRF, LDPR and A Just Russia, but at the chances of all other parties as well). In 2015, prompted by the "Crimean consensus," the government did another favour to the parliamentary opposition by reducing the impact of the "Klishas law" (while most of non-parliament parties had no registration privileges before). As a result, none of the regional capitals used the all-out plurality voting system in the following years (2015–2018). Besides, even the capitals that wither already abolished or were either planning to abolish it brought it back (Novosibirsk, Novosibirsk, etc.).

Now that the parties alternative to United Russia are on the electoral rise, which started in 2018, there is a stronger trend towards bringing back an all-out plurality voting system. In 2019, the system was used in 13 regional capitals out of 21. In this campaign, 8 regional capitals (Astrakhan, Vladimir, Kostroma, Lipetsk, Magadan, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Ulyanovsk) made a complete switch to the plurality voting system, but 14 regions keep using the mixed one (see Table 8). At the same time, five capitals out of 14 (Syktyvkar, Kazan, Cheboksary, Orenburg, Tambov) indicate that the ratio of list-based and plurality components remains equal or roughly equal, while nine indicate the prevailing majority component prevails. In 2015, the ratio in Krasnodar, Voronezh, Kaluga, Oryol, Rostov-on-Don, Smolensk and Tomsk favored the plurality component, however (12:36 in Krasnodar became 13:39 while remaining the same in the other six). Izhevsk and Ivanovo had an equal ratio (21:21 and 15:15 respectively), which is now unequal (Izhevsk also reduced the total number of deputies from 42 to 35).

Table 8. Main parameters of the electoral system in elections to representative bodies of regional capitals


City

Total number of deputies =
elected under proportional representation + plurality system

Seat allocation method

Syktyvkar

30 = 15 + 15

Imperiali quota

Kazan

50 = 25 + 25

Hare quota

Izhevsk

35 = 10 + 25

Imperiali quota

Cheboksary

43 = 22 + 21

Imperiali quota

Krasnodar

52 = 13 + 39

Imperiali quota

Astrakhan

36 = 0 + 36

Vladimir

25 = 0 + 25

Voronezh

36 = 12 + 24

Tyumen

Ivanovo

30 = 10 + 20

Imperiali quota

Kaluga

35 = 10 + 25

Tyumen

Kostroma

33 = 0 + 33

Lipetsk

36 = 0 + 36

Magadan

21 = 0 + 21

Nizhny Novgorod

35 = 0 + 35

Novosibirsk

50 = 0 + 50

Orenburg

40 = 20 + 20

Tyumen

Oryol

38 = 10 + 28

Tyumen

Rostov-on-Don

40 = 10 + 30

Imperiali quota

Smolensk

30 = 10 + 20

Tyumen

Tambov

36 = 18 + 18

Tyumen

Tomsk

37 = 10 + 27

Tyumen

Ulyanovsk

40 = 0 + 40



Of the eight regional centers that switched to plurality voting system, three (Astrakhan, Novosibirsk, Ulyanovsk) maintained the previous number of deputies, while in other the number decreased: 35 to 25 in Vladimir, 38 to 33 in Kostroma, 48 to 36 in Lipetsk, 28 to 21 in Magadan, 47 to 35 in Nizhny Novgorod. Thus, in Nizhny Novgorod, the average rate of representation jumped to 29 000 voters per deputy, which is probably a record number for the municipal level.

Most of the major non-capital cities returned to fully plurality voting system as well. As we pointed out in subsection 2.1, plurality voting system is used in 31 urban okrugs out of 38, where the number of voters is more than 50 000 and where elections to representative bodies will take place on September 13.

All cities under discussion use single-member constituencies.

In 2014, the federal law set the maximum threshold in municipal elections to 5%. This resulted in the near-universal setting of the threshold being to the maximum 5%, including the 14 regional capitals that use proportional representation system in the current campaign.

As can be seen in Table 8, the cities use three different methods of seat allocation. The simplest and fairest Hare quota is still used in Kazan. Seven regional capitals use the Tyumen method, while six use the Imperiali quota.

As was noted in the previous subsection, using the Imperiali quota may result in a party that received more than 5% of votes not receiving any seats at all after allocation. Such scenario clearly contradicts the federal law. Therefore, the laws of the six regions concerned prescribe a correction for such a situation. Three different correction methods are used.

The laws of the Udmurt Republic, Ivanovo and Rostov Oblasts prescribe the following method: The number of parliamentary seats won by the first and subsequent (vote-based) candidate lists that filled more than one parliamentary seat is reduced by one, while the vacated seats are transferred to candidate lists that were admitted to seat allocation, but did not win any deputy seats. If two or more candidate lists received an equal number of parliamentary seats, first to be reduced is the number of deputy seats won by the candidate list with the least number of votes. This is essentially a correction at the expense of the leader, which can be considered quite fair since the Imperiali quota gives the leader clear advantages.

The law of the Komi Republic uses the opposite approach: candidate lists that were admitted to seat allocation yet did not win any seats receive one seat each from candidate lists that won more than one deputy seat. Seats are distributed starting with the candidate list with the least number of votes. In other words, it is a correction at the expense of the outsider, which can lead to an even more distorted proportion in the process of seat allocation.

The third method is used in the Chuvash Republic and Krasnodar Krai. The law of the Chuvash Republic states that "If the candidate list admitted to deputy seat allocation does not receive any deputy seats as a result of deputy seat allocation, the last parliamentary seat to be allocated shall be transferred to this candidate list." This norm is understandable only to someone who knows other algorithms for implementing divisor methods. The fact is that Russian laws (including Chuvash) do not provide for consistent transfer of seats to candidate lists and give no definition of "the last parliamentary seat to be allocated."

The law of Krasnodar Krai provides a more consistent explanation of this method (one has to read very carefully in order to understand it): "In case during the seat allocation between municipal candidate lists admitted to seat allocation, the electoral quotient defined in the first paragraph of this Section is higher than the quotient received from one or two specified municipal candidate lists, this municipal candidate list (municipal candidate lists) receive one seat (one seat each) while the electoral quotient is raised by transitioning from the smaller quotient (smaller quotients) to the bigger quotient from the resulting number of decreasing quotients per seat, which were allocated to said municipal candidate list (municipal candidate lists). At the same time, this procedure is carried out without taking into account the private municipal candidate list that received one deputy seat through seat allocation. This specific seat remains with this municipal candidate list, and the electoral quotient increases for municipal candidate lists with large quotients that provide the municipal candidate list with at least one deputy seat.”

Splitting party lists into territorial groups is mandatory in 12 capitals out of 14 that use mixed representation system, and in all cases the split is imposed by regional law. Kazan is the only capital that does not impose splitting, while in Ivanovo parties can decide whether they want to split the list.

Table 9. Splitting party lists into territorial groups


City

Number of territorial groups

The number of candidates in

The number of candidates on the list

heartland

territorial group

min

max

Syktyvkar

8–15

1–3

2–3

17

48

Izhevsk

3–5

1–5

1–5

4

30

Cheboksary

11–21

1–3

2–3

23

66

Krasnodar

13–39

1–3

1–3

14

120

Voronezh

6–12

1–3

1–2

10

27

Ivanovo

10–20

1–3

1–4

11 (5)*

83 (30)*

Kaluga

13–25

1–3

1–3

14

78

Orenburg

10–20

2–5

20

100

Oryol

14–28

3–4

1–2

17

60

Rostov-on-Don

5–10

2–3

10

30

Smolensk

5–10

1–3

3–5

16

53

Tambov

9–18

3

3

30

57

Tomsk

5–9

1–3

2–5

11

48


*Parentheses indicate the maximum and minimum number of candidates if the list is not split into territorial groups.

As we pointed out regarding regional elections in the previous section, splitting lists into territorial groups may be justified in large and heterogeneous areas, while doing so in small homogeneous areas results in more disadvantages than advantages in terms of protecting voter interests. Accordingly, in municipal elections, and even more so in urban okrugs with short distances, a dense population and a fairly homogeneous electorate, splitting lists into a large number of groups results in more disadvantages than advantages. In particular, the disadvantages may manifest with a small number of voters, when the seat allocation can be influenced by both electoral fraud and other factors (bribery, conscious disruption of turnout in the area), including accidents (even a utility accident in one of the houses may be a factor).

However, regional legislators have been imposing list splitting in municipal elections for a long time. That said, the rules regarding list splitting are usually as rigid in municipal elections as in regional, and sometimes more so.

When the list-based and plurality parts were universally equal or nearly equal, the prevailing rule was to confine territorial groups to single-member constituencies. In other words, the number of groups corresponded to both the number of single-member constituencies and the number of seats allocated in a single constituency. We do not think this is optimal, but at least there was some logic to it. Now that the number of list-based seats in many cities has become significantly smaller than the number of single-member constituencies, trying to confine territorial groups to single-member constituencies is simply absurd. Nevertheless, the practice survives in Krasnodar, Ivanovo, Kaluga and Oryol.

Other regions reduced the number of territorial groups. In Smolensk and Voronezh, the groups have to combine two single-member constituencies as well as three and five in Rostov-on-Don and Tomsk respectively. In all these cases, the territories corresponding to the groups are determined by the electoral commission organizing the elections.

In these cities, as in the case of strictly confining groups to single-member constituencies, parties can split their lists into fewer groups than the number of established territories, but are unable to either unite the established territories, or separate them. In other words, if a party reduces the number of groups on the list, its groups will not cover the entire city.

These elections have only two exceptions to this rule—the cities of Syktyvkar and Tambov. At the same time, Tambov Oblast law stipulates that "Territorial groups in a candidate list shall cover the entire area of a municipal entity. If the number of territorial groups is less than the number of parts of the municipal entity, the party may combine two bordering parts to which the territorial groups of candidates will correspond” (in this case, "territory" implies a single-member constituency). The Komi Republic law gives parties more freedom of choice: "Each territorial group shall match the territory of one or two bordering single-member constituencies that were formed to elect deputies to the representative body of a municipal entity."

The laws in question either provide for a minimum number of candidates on the list, or said minimum is derived from the number of territorial groups and the minimum number of candidates there. In 8 cities (Syktyvkar, Krasnodar, Kaluga, Oryol, Smolensk, Tambov, Tomsk, Cheboksary), the minimum number of candidates on the list exceeds the number of seats allocated in a single constituency. In reality, this ratio is even higher in the cities where the groups are strictly confined to single-member constituencies (as we mentioned before, Syktyvkar and Tambov are the only exceptions), due to the fact that major parties try to cover all territories. Such rigid rules force parties to fill the lists with many candidates who obviously have no chance of being elected and are therefore not very interested in electoral success; besides, this increases the burden on the party and its apparatus (both organizational and financial).

Table 10 shows the maximum expenditure amounts ("ceilings") for candidate and party campaign funds. The "ceilings" per voter are extremely varied here as well. The minimum rate for parties is found in Kazan (10.90 RUB, appr. 0.14 USD), while the maximum rate is found in Cheboksary (162 RUB, appr. 2.10 USD) (see Figure 4).

Table 10. Campaign fund limits



City

Number of voters as of 1 January 2020

Number of majority constituencies

Campaign fund limit, mln. RUB (USD)

for party

for candidate

Syktyvkar

186,798

15

20

3

Kazan

918,467

25

10

1

Izhevsk

491,506

25

35

2

Cheboksary

370,653

21

60

3

Krasnodar

824,203

39

10

0.4

Astrakhan

370,033

36

2.5

Vladimir

274,021

25

1.53454

Voronezh

829,035

24

41.45175

1.727156

Ivanovo

305,966

20

40

5

Kaluga

292,120

25

4

1

Kostroma

215,970

33

2

Lipetsk

407,104

36

5

Magadan

68,909

21

2

Nizhny Novgorod

1,015,862

35

5

Novosibirsk

1,189,792

50

5

Orenburg

422,726

20

50

5

Oryol

252,550

28

4

0.5 or 1

Rostov-on-Don

791,167

30

60

6

Smolensk

260,197

20

35

3

Tambov

240,195

18

30

3

Tomsk

371,997

27

30

10

Ulyanovsk

503,226

40

3






The ranges for candidates are quite extensive as well (see Figure 5), between 18.9 RUB (appr. 0.25 USD) in Krasnodar and 726 RUB (appr. 9.55 USD) in Tomsk.


Many regional legislations set the "ceilings" for campaign funds depending on the number of voters in the constituency. While indeed logical, this may still result in different "ceilings" in different constituencies in the same election. A better way of setting a "ceiling" would be depending on the average representation rate, like in the Udmurt Republic, Voronezh Oblast, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast and Rostov Oblast.

Many regional centers still managed to avoid differences in "ceilings" between regions. The only exception in this campaign was the city of Oryol, where regional law stipulated a "ceiling" of 500,000 RUB (appr. 6,585 USD) for constituencies with less than 10 000 voters and 1,000,000 RUB (appr. 13,170 USD) for constituencies with 10 000–50 000 voters. That said, five constituencies in Oryol account for more than 10 000 voters each (between 10 152 and 10 257) while the other 23 constituencies account for less than 10 000 voters each (between 8 406 and 9 913). As a result, the campaign fund "ceiling" per voter stands at 97.5–98.5 RUB (appr. 1.28–1.3 USD) in five constituencies and 50.4–59.5 RUB (0.66–0.78 USD) in 23 constituencies.

The "None of the above" vote can still be found on the ballots in Krasnoyarsk Krai and Kaluga Oblast. The "None of the above" vote came back to the municipal elections in 2015, but only in the regions where regional legislators allowed it. It was initially allowed in eight regions, yet by 2018 there remained only two regions that enabled their voters to directly express their disapproval of all candidates or parties running in the election.

Four parliamentary parties (United Russia, CPRF, LDPR, A Just Russia) have the registration privilege, meaning they do not have to collect signatures to register candidates or party lists. Besides, certain federal subjects and municipal entities grant this privilege in municipal elections to the following two categories of parties:

in the given region—parties admitted for seat allocation or parties that won at least 3% of votes in the latest election to the corresponding regional parliament;

in the given municipal entity—parties that seated at least one candidate to the given representative body in the latest election, regardless of whether the candidate ran in the party list or the majority constituency.

In this campaign, there are six cities where only four parliamentary parties have the registration privilege. Between 5 and 7 parties have the registration privilege in the remaining cities (see Table 11).

Table 11. Parties with privilege in certain cities


City

Number of parties with privilege

Parties with privilege (besides parliamentary parties)

Syktyvkar

5

Communists of Russia

Kazan

5

Communists of Russia

Izhevsk

5

Patriots of Russia

Cheboksary

5

RPPSJ

Krasnodar

4

Astrakhan

4

Vladimir

7

Yabloko, RPPSJ, CPSJ

Voronezh

4

Ivanovo

6

Communists of Russia, RPPSJ

Kaluga

6

Yabloko, Communists of Russia

Kostroma

6

Yabloko, Communists of Russia

Lipetsk

6

Communists of Russia, RPPSJ

Magadan

4

Nizhny Novgorod

5

Patriots of Russia

Novosibirsk

5

Civic Platform

Orenburg

4

Oryol

4

Rostov-on-Don

5

Communists of Russia

Smolensk

5

RPPSJ

Tambov

5

Rodina

Tomsk

5

Yabloko

Ulyanovsk

5

Communists of Russia


This report was prepared by

Arkadii Lyubarev, Candidate of Legal Sciences,
Aleksandr Kynev, Candidate of Political Sciences