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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The local referendums are combined with elections of the President

The head of the Republic of Bashkortostan Rustem Khamitov intends to increase the presence of countrymen on elections of the head of the country without “force or compulsion”. If his plans come true, the local polls will be held on March 18 in 24 municipalities of the Republic, including Ufa. Questions will relate to the improvement of the urban environment. “We understand that part of our population often behaves indifferent towards such important events like the elections. Of course, I would like to come to the polls more voters and expressed his point,” — said Khamitov. We will remind that earlier Chairman of the Central election Commission, Ella Pamfilova has sharply criticized the plans of regional and local authorities to hold local polls at the polling stations. “I strongly oppose the use of the word “referendum” where it is not necessary”, — said the CEC head.

photo: Alex geldings

The words Pamfilova were made at a meeting of the CEC. The CEC banned the local and territorial election commissions to use the presidential elections as a platform for surveys of a local character, unrelated to the presidential election. It was the reaction of Ella Pamfilova at the initiative of the electoral Commission of the Moscow region to hold a referendum on March 18 for students in which they had to speak for five – or six-day school week, taking to the polls with their parents or grandparents with documents confirming the identity of the children and their accompanying adults.

Protest Pamfilova was caused by the fact that for school referendums, themed photo contests and other public events, combined in space and time with the presidential elections, some municipalities and organizations use symbols and products subject to exclusive rights of the CEC. The Chairman of the Commission said that at polling stations no further action should not be in principle.

However, events are planned, not only in Bashkiria, the head of which believes that “a sin not to take advantage of the situation when people come to the polling stations”.

Referendums on election day was going to hold in Moscow. In the Academic area of the planned vote on the issue of height restrictions of buildings in Zamoskvorechye for the transfer of the monument to Lenin, and in Kuntsevo — on a monument to the President. The district courts of the capital canceled the referendum, but the policy here seems to be nothing to do with it. Prosecutors and judges insisted that the General plan of the city, there is a procedure enshrined in the town planning code, and does not require a referendum.

But this is Moscow. In the Volgograd region in the election day of the President may take a poll of citizens about refusal of Moscow time. Residents of the Komi Republic will speak on the issue of moving the capital from Syktyvkar to Ukhta. State Duma Deputy Andrei Alshevskih proposed to hold simultaneously with the presidential election a survey of residents of the Sverdlovsk region on renaming of the region, he was supported by his colleague from Sverdlovsk legislative Assembly Vyacheslav Wegner, according to which, the area can be renamed to Demidov edge.

How such initiatives comply with current legislation? This question the correspondent of “MK” asked the two Federal MPs and the representative of the academic sphere.

Oleg SHEIN, Deputy of the State Duma party “Fair Russia”:

I’m not ready to give a legal assessment of the legality of holding local referendums on the election day, because in my region, I with such cases did not face. I think that taking into account the position of the CEC Chairperson Ella Pamfilova, a referendum of this kind will be called not by referendums, but otherwise — for example, surveys. This camouflage. We understand that we are talking about technologies to improve turnout, especially in those regions where protest sentiments are expressed not so strongly, as, for example, in Moscow.

Nikolai KOLOMEITSEV, the Deputy of the State Duma from the Communist party:

— From my point of view, the simultaneous holding of referendums on local issues and the presidential elections in violation of the law. This does not contradict the law on basic guarantees of citizens ‘ rights. An exception is the so-called “school referendum” because they assume the participation of minors not eligible to vote. But in General, I repeat, nothing illegal in such referendums, as well as, I am sure that the more different campaigns carried out, the fewer possibilities for fraud. Although, of course, we are talking about the use of technology improve turnout, which in recent years in some major cities fell to 15 and even 10 percent of the citizens. It is the result of a loss of confidence in the institution of elections.

Ilya SHABLINSKY, Professor, Department of constitutional and municipal law, law faculty, Higher school of Economics:

— The simultaneous holding of presidential elections and local referendums are legitimate. In article 7 of the Law on referendum says that with the election of the President or Federal Parliament the national referendum incompatible. About local referendums does not have such limitations. Moreover, the law on basic guarantees of electoral rights and the right to participate in referendum of citizens of the Russian Federation allows the electoral commissions at the same time to hold presidential elections and referenda of local importance.

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