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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Is it possible to revive the state Duma

Day President Putin will sign a decree on holding elections to the state Duma of the seventh convocation, giving a start to the campaign. Elections will be held on 18 September on a mixed system: 225 deputies elected on party lists and 225 in single — mandate constituencies.

“There was never such, and here again!” — used to say the master of the aphorism, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Well, “here we go again”: the Federal elections in single-mandate constituencies was not held in Russia since 2003 — two of the last Duma consisted only of “spisochnik”.

Will the Parliament any different with the appearance of a single-seat districts? Will they change the monotonous landscape of the Duma? And what good is this to voters?

photo: Alex geldings

Who in the early 90s, first came up with the slang word “spisochnik” and “single-seat districts” — history is silent. But any politician with the go call one of the main differences from the first second: “voting for the party list, people vote for the party brand, and voting for the single-seat districts, they vote for a particular person”.

“A place in the list is a kind of currency, which the Central party bureaucracy pays when hardware or political transactions. And the single-seat districts he goes to the voters and should make them a compelling policy proposal”, — said political analyst Gleb Pavlovsky.

In other words, the party list — as a choir, where the artistic Director is the leader of the party, and in the back row can not sing, but simply to open his mouth — no one will notice that the voices you don’t. The single-seat districts — the soloist enters the scene alone, and all the flowers, all the rotten tomatoes and scandals with paparazzi get to him personally (artistic Director usually behind the scenes).

The Duma in single-seat districts fall in different ways. There were among them as favorites, but in fact appointed by the heads of the regions who hold entrusted to their care the territory and able to defend their man in trade with the party and the Federal government.

There have been “put on the district,” large companies and state monopolies. Had just bought himself Okrug — one knows why, “to make it”. Silent “grey jackets”, officials said. “Authoritative businessmen”. Eccentric characters from the number of crazy town. Opinion leaders of national and regional spill that won in the bitter struggle…

They then became good or bad deputies — as well as those that found their way into the Duma through the party list.

“Otherwise elected in the district to understand the cost of the mandate, he received the support of the specific constituents of specific areas with their specific issues, knows the pain points of each municipality. Spisochnik from such direct psychological connection with the region”, — said the Deputy of the state Duma Alexander Hinstein (“ER”) who in 2003 elected in single-mandate district in the Nizhny Novgorod region.

About “special”, almost mystical connection with voters will definitely tell you all the deputies who have passed through single-member districts in 1993-2003. Such deputies in the current Duma about 60.

To become a good single-seat districts, “you need a certain level of influence in the region and in the center, below you waved and listened,” — explains g-n Hinstein. “If you want to achieve something and to get re-elected, need to be primarily active lobbyist for the interests of his district,” — adds Mikhail Emelyanov (“CP”), in 1999 and 2003, won a single-mandate district in Rostov region.

The need to be a good lobbyist for the County (in sparsely populated regions is the territory of the RF subject) defines the behavior of single-mandate deputies in the Duma. Many of them believe you need to focus or active work in the district, or by active work on the laws in Moscow — and at the same time well to do the impossible, and not worth it.

“The voters at the meetings, not asking about laws, but about the fact, why close the hospital, why join school why bad roads. You can be the author of 100 laws, but people remember 50 was constructed sometime in the region of sports grounds”, — told “MK” the experienced Deputy. Although the hospital closed, and schools unite precisely because the state Duma adopted the laws that allow…

Sometimes the single-seat districts is transformed into “a hostage of circumstances” faced with a choice like “either you’re hammering bad publicly of the Minister of health or Minister of the same money for the hospital beat”. “Behavior of single-mandate more rational than that of party list candidates, they unnecessarily do not quarrel with the Executive branch” — agrees g-n Yemelyanov.

Money, however, the Minister could still not give. But “blackmail” is possible and on the other side: “critics — the hospital will not.”

If the single-seat districts can knock out something for the County, “fetch”, as they say in the Duma, it is difficult to vote against the budget, even if the party took this decision. Thanks to the Communists-the single-seat districts adopted budgets and in opposition to President Yeltsin, “the left” the second Duma.

All bills are representatives of this category of deputies first of all assesses, from the point of view of the interests of their voters. One of them told “MK” that when, in 2004, adopted the law on monetization of benefits, vzbalamutil all pensioners in the country, in his rural district, everything went smoothly and he did not have to prevaricate to vote “for” at the behest of the native Pro-government faction in the villages of free medicines in drugstores was not, and free public transport too.

The knee break through the stubborn single-seat districts in the Duma of the fourth convocation was not always possible and the “United Russia” — sometimes they were allowed a free vote.

Limited, like a horse in blinders, seeing the consequence of the obsession with regional issues. All that care to residents of its district, the local authorities or his company — on the periphery of interest for the single-seat districts. That’s why most of them are indifferent to human rights issues, and loud political statements is usually not about them.

Under the Constitution, all state Duma deputies are equal, but the charismatic mandate deputies always considers himself more equal than others and never misses an opportunity to remind about it. “My constituents will not understand me”, “I voted for 300 thousand”, “don’t scare me, I went through single-mandate elections” — these words are full transcripts of their speeches in the plenary hall.

Each won the campaign for them to win the war, as another medal on his chest.

photo: Alex geldings

Can the mouse get to the Parliament?

These were typical single-seat districts. It has been 10 years. Will 225 such those that will come on Okhotny Ryad in the fall of 2016?

The electoral law, designed to last years without problems allows to prevent the election of candidates unwanted by the authorities at any level. And postkrymsky consensus “system” parliamentary parties and the desire to save it push the Kremlin, accustomed to parliamentary unanimity on key issues, towards tight control over elections and their results.

So, everything is predetermined, the mouse does not slip, the bird will not fly?

Interviewed by “MK” political scientists agree that presidential majority is guaranteed by us but are confident that the new Duma will still be slightly different. A little livelier, something…

“It will be still more legitimate than this one, at the expense of single-mandate that clearer, stronger politically and behave more independently. And today’s voter is not the voter of 2011, which believed in miracles, in the fact that oil prices can only rise, not fall, and wages, too,” — said Gleb Pavlovsky.

“With all the filters and restrictions, screwed in the current electoral law, the elections in single-mandate constituencies are harder to control,” said the political analyst, docent of the Department of public administration Institute of social Sciences of Ranepa Catherine Shulman. In her opinion, the authorities are in the process of selection of candidates “will need to find a person that meets two criteria: the election and loyalty. These two terms largely cancel each other out — so you will have to have in the selection process of compromise, and finding electable candidate single-seat districts, the system will be forced to show him more to be considered than with the spisochnik”.

Moreover, “in a democratic system, the election results unpredictable, and the consequences are predictable — no one can pre-call the score or the winning candidate, but everyone can predict how about one or the other will behave.

In nodemocracy, intermediate regimes such as ours the opposite is true: the election result is more or less clear, and the consequences nobody knows. In the Duma will gather mostly those single-seat districts, which have been pre-selected by the government. But then they start to claim to an independent political role, taking greater account of their interests in exchange for a vote.

They will bargain, cost more and ask more, because I understand that they are harder to replace,” — says Ms. Schulman.

Between the government and United Russia contradictions are now, if the crisis deepens, they will worsen, “and what we call “loyalty”, is actually opportunism: these people do not have a rigid system of political beliefs, they act on the environment and change their behavior can change very much”.

Such a metamorphosis we have seen in the current Duma. How many people now remember in the beginning of 2012, in the midst of street protests, unconditionally “Patriotic” now the faction “Fair Russia” went to the courtroom with the white ribbons on his chest, and her position from the rostrum sometimes voiced Ilya Ponomarev, has become over time a Deputy, renegade, and Gennady Gudkov deprived later mandate?

“We have experience in diverse Duma, elected in 1999, there was a Pro-presidential majority of the different factions and groups. Serious part of it was the group “people’s Deputy” created by single-seat districts. Most likely, about that the state Duma will be: in any case, more diverse.

Apparently, 8-9 parties, having failed to overcome the 5% barrier, would hold still in one or several of his mandate — and, thus, in the Duma, they will be presented. In addition, thanks to the single-seat districts will be more seriously reflected regional interests,” — said political scientist, Director of the International Bureau of political expertise Yevgeny Minchenko.

Among the parties who can carry out single-mandate constituencies their candidates, experts often referred to as “Apple”, “Party of growth”, “Patriots of Russia”, “Motherland”.

photo: Natalia Gubernatorova

Why a fraction of the group – the wolf

Seems that the Kremlin is not 100% certain that a bird without their permission in the Parliament will not fly, and the mouse does not slip, and all single-seat districts will be soft as a Teddy bear. Evidence of at least two.

The first is the lack of knowledge about the structure of the new Duma now, three weeks before the end of the current Duma and in just over three months before the election.

The fact that the party spent their lists through the barrier (in the 1993-2003 period for this it was necessary to collect 5% of the vote, then 7%, now again less than five), have always received and will have the right to create a fraction.

In the fraction typically included (and, apparently, will enter) the mandate put forward by the same parties. And the single-seat districts, formally or with any party not associated (the so-called independent candidates), or representatives of parties that didn’t clear the barrier, before she could officially register the group with the same rights as factions: the right to a voice in the Council of the Duma Vice-speaker, for participation in the carve-up of posts of heads of committees and deputies of heads of committees and a guaranteed right to speech in the courtroom on all issues.

In the first Duma (1993-1995) was 8 2 fractions and Deputy groups, and the law on the status of the Duma and the regulations were allowed to register to the group when there is not less than 35 deputies. There were so-called independent, do not fall into one of the groups members.

Single member of a group rarely voted in solidarity — too different interests were pragmatic people of different political views in different regions. This skillfully used the Kremlin. In the spring of 1999 mainly due to the single-seat districts, which held the individual work, not happened the impeachment of President Yeltsin didn’t have the 17 votes in favor.

In the Duma of the second convocation (1995-1999), there were 4 factions and 3 Deputy groups. In the Duma of the third convocation (1999-2003) — six factions and 3 groups.

In the Duma of the fourth convocation (2003-2007), where the Pro-presidential majority was already quite stable and impressive game with groups has become the Kremlin and parliamentary parties is not needed, and almost immediately after the election the minimum necessary for registration of the group number of deputies was increased to 55. The threshold was prohibitive. Outside of the factions were only about 20 members.

Duma of the fifth and sixth convocations (2007-2016) was elected only on party lists. When in 2005-2006, under the new rules has redrawn the electoral system, the law on status of Deputy in advance made the change, removing mention of the groups and excluding the possibility of the existence in Parliament of individuals: the exit from the faction or joining another party, not the one that you ran, began to threaten an immediate withdrawal of the mandate. But the faction could not exclude from their ranks of MPs, even if they are in conflict with the leadership and voted as God blesses!

Effects anecdotal. Communist Konstantin Shirshov, being accused of fraud, refused to listen to the requests of the leadership of the faction and voluntarily lay down their mandate and went to serve his sentence as a Deputy from the Communist party.

In the liberal democratic party was expelled from the party Irina Chirkova, Roman Khudyakov, and Dmitry Nosov, but to give up their seats and they refuse formally remain members of the LDPR faction.

And in “Fair Russia” several people were expelled from the party, some of them created their own party, but formally remain members of the faction “WED”: among them Oksana Dmitrieva and Ivan Grachev, Andrei Krutov, Ilya Ponomaryov and Dmitry Gudkov, Igor Zotov…

What rights will be given to the mandate in the Duma of the seventh convocation is unknown. The law on the status of the Deputy and the Duma regulations is not corrected still.

In mid March the speaker of the state Duma Sergey Naryshkin, answering the deputies ‘ questions, said that the issue will be resolved “at some point in time.

The time had not yet come. The head of the Committee on constitutional legislation Vladimir Pligin (“EP”) in conversation with “MK” gave to understand that the question hanging and almost certainly will remain a legacy of the new Duma. Apparently, in the Kremlin do not know what structure they will be more comfortable with her “interact” as neatly say some political analysts.

According to the “MK” in the presidential Administration decided to wait for the election results to understand how many will be single-seat districts, which it is impossible to drive in the faction. If 10-20 — they will remain independent loners. And if more — maybe have an official group to solve…

The leaders of parliamentary parties don’t need another mouth to feed in the struggle for the Duma a piece of the pie, and let it all out — no groups of single-seat districts will not. But experts believe their emergence is inevitable.

“It wants not any opposition, and surlalune United Russia or popular front representatives who will say: “Let us create a single-member group “Krymnash” to better represent the Pro-presidential position in the leadership Council and in the committees”, but in fact they do not want their political position better to submit, and the posts in the committees, a voice in the Council of the Duma and a large office with a reception for the team leader to obtain”, says Ekaterina Shulman.

“The group is not permitted by law on the status — so they will be informal and will fight for that to become formal” — agrees g-n Minchenko.

By the way, and 10-20 independent deputies could be seen. An example of a lone dissident of the Duma, actively working “as if spywares” Dmitry Gudkov for others to see.

How to turn the MP in frightening crow

There is another indication that the Kremlin is in any case preparing for the emergence of a potentially recalcitrant deputies and probable Fronde on Okhotny Ryad.

Head over to any caught in the new Duma suspended the sword of Damocles: in early may, came into force a law that allows the Duma majority to deprive any Deputy mandate “in the event of default within 30 calendar days” of his duties, and now it “runs in” Ilya Ponomarev and Alexei Mitrofanov.

The initiator of the expulsion from the Duma can become either a faction where the Deputy is, or the Committee, of which he is. The validity of the charges will test the Duma Commission on ethics. If a simple Duma majority in the plenary will press the button “over” — it’s done, the more you are not the Deputy.

“Well, right! Do nothing, and 400 thousand per month receive!”, — I think the ordinary voter. But no relation to the fight against shirkers and parasites, this law has not — at least because does not negate the rights of the Deputy not to go into the Duma at all, handing over his vote to his colleagues in the attorney. The main thing — to keep within, not to irritate strongly the leadership of the faction and the Kremlin

By the way, about the committees in the law wrote it to mandate that the faction will not come, so they had a Council: do not hide who voted “for”.

But posted on the Duma website of the Committee for security and countering corruption, for example, in may met twice, one of them — by ballot, that is, members are not physically together, and their opinion was clear on the phone.

The defence Committee met in may once. The Committee on education and on international Affairs too. Usually the meetings of the committees were present from 30 to 50% of their payroll — the rest are present in the form of powers of attorney. 22 of the 30 current committees of the Duma controlled by United Russia — they have the majority there. Nothing about the work of MPs in the region the head of the Committee doesn’t know.

How and who under such or similar conditions will evaluate the extent of execution by a Deputy of their duties?

This law as applied to the single-mandate is better to keep in the form of latent threat, said Ekaterina Shulman: “If at least once it will be applied against the single-seat districts need to be conducted in the same district a second election. In a situation when these elections only, and not as part of a big campaign, they will attract the most attention, there’ll be covered all the press and all observers. And again arises the problem to find electable candidate instead, who was expelled”.

And preferences of voters are sometimes very stable. With an enviable constancy from 1993 to 2003 in single-mandate constituencies surely won journalist Alexander Nevzorov, who did not hide that for 4 convocation was at the Council meetings of 4 times. By the way, in the Duma of the fourth convocation his attorney regularly voted.

But if you really need it, re-elections no one will stop it.

There are other tested ways to show the obstinate member of the “gruel”: the sixth convocation has clearly demonstrated how fickle the fate of the Deputy. Six deprived of immunity: one of them sits, the two are hiding from prosecution abroad. One deprived of his position for allegedly continued to do business. Several people are under the threat of scandal “voluntarily” resigned.

Why not push a single-seat districts in a suitcase

“The choice before the authorities now is this: either give the single-seat districts the opportunity to use the parliamentary mechanisms and to let the process of increasing politicization of society through them, or start to be pressed.

Of course, they will be scare, it is evident from various indications, but “tilt” will have much less flexible people, and the Kremlin from this habit and afraid of such conflicts. And then the governors all year much frightened criminal cases and landings, but during the primaries of “United Russia” we saw that the governors are very moderately manageable and promote their even when the pressure from Moscow”, — says Gleb Pavlovsky.

He was sure that when trying “to cram mandate in the suitcase” one of them will inevitably take the call, and “stripped of the political clearing any standing lonely and not even a large figure becomes a giant, and attracts attention”.

Fighting qualities of the new Duma Ekaterina Shulman offers to check on the quality of work on the budget: “the Budgetary powers of the Duma were very severely curtailed in 2006-2008, and in 2014-2015 we saw a real attempt to regain at least part of the hard resistance of the Ministry of Finance, a process that will continue, lobbied the Committee on budget and taxes, and actively supported the speaker of the state Duma Sergey Naryshkin”.

The performances of the auditors of the chamber of accounts now accompany each hour of the government Minister.

The amount of information that the government provides, together with the draft budget, has grown substantially. Those who have eyes will read, has the brains but uses… the Main directions of budget policy, tax policy and customs policy cannot be submitted to the government, bypassing the state Duma, which first discusses them, conducts hearings and makes recommendations.

For each object, which is included in the Federal targeted investment programme and for which we have allocated money, now the mandatory information on the availability of design and estimate documentation and all necessary permissions, and if not — justification, why not and when will.

The inclusion of a facility within the district in the FTIP has always been the ultimate dream of single-seat districts. Appearing again in the Duma, “they will be able, if they wish, to use the mechanisms of parliamentary control which we have created,” hopes the head of the Committee on budget and taxes Andrey Makarov (“EP”), previously elected in single-mandate districts in Moscow and the Kemerovo region: “the single-seat districts will not peel off from all levels of government and contractors if the object is suddenly in the presence of documentation is not built, because he’s in front of people have already reported that the hospital or the road will be”…

What to expect from the Council, where half of the deputies elected in single-mandate constituencies?

Will be more alive than now. And they can if you want. But for this we need to first at least something I seriously wanted we, their constituents.

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