It Is Necessary to Change our Election System
Overview of the article
from newspaper «Nezavisimaya Gazeta»
October 16, 1999
Ex-chairman of the CEC, Director of Independent Institute of Elections Alexander Ivanchenko hopes that reform of election system can take place as a result of Parliamentary elections.
- Alexander V., why was LDPR refused a registration? What do you think about it?
- It is a theoretical question. Let's open the Constitution, Part 2, Article 24. It is written there, that « State bodies of power must give everybody an opportunity to get acquainted with the documents, directly related to his/her rights and liberties». In the Election Law it is written that it is necessary to give all information about candidates. It is done only to provide voters with all information they may be interested in.
But from my point of view, this process should run in another way. If a person who is running for elections gave wrong information about him/herself, he must have a chance to explain it to the CEC. Having considered the situation this candidate can refuse to participate in elections by himself. Finally the association can make the decision after it was informed by the CEC about this wrong information. And only then the CEC can decide whether to register a candidate or not. But the present situation is quite opposite: the candidate has no right to protect his own interests.
Moreover every person has the right to appeal against any decision in court. And the chance to be reinstated is rather high.
- What are the reasons for the refusal in registration?
- In LDPR case 2 candidates from the first triad got the refusal, and as a result the whole list of candidates got the refusal. We think that this situation limits the rights of not only these candidates but of all who were in this list. In Constitution, Part 3, Article 32 it is written that only citizens, who are kept in penitentiary facilities and those who were recognized to be incapable are disfranchised.
This is the only possible limit. But this situation is an example of violation of law. I would like to draw your attention to this situation. If we do not work at this issue, we'll have lots of problems during realization of our Constitution. This situation is very serious, and we should think of it not only because of the LDPR.
- Many people think that CEC was not objective. Are the CEC commissioners guilty or is the problem in imperfection of the new Election Law?
- The legislators decided to work out details of the previous acts. On the one hand, everything is all right. But on the other hand, we have 11 grounds for refusal in registration and 18 grounds for withdrawals. We can see nothing of the kind in election systems of other countries. Unfortunately, the law leaves many opportunities for the law breaking. The matter is that the right to decide belongs only to voters, that's why only they can either support or deny a party with their votes.
- Alexander V., can you mention to us some specific features of the present Election campaign?
- Of course, I can. For example, bloc-building with governors' participation. Not too many people think about it now, but the desire for changing our present Election system stands behind this governors' activity. Now Moscow parties have «a controlling interest». That's why it is nice that not only Moscow associations will take part in forthcoming Duma Elections. I think that the governors' bloc-building is the attempt to get the majority of seats not by the existing parties but by regional representatives.
- Do you think, it is necessary to change the proportions in existing mixed election system? What will be optimal?
- I am sure that we should not copy any system that exists in other countries (majoritarian two-party election system in USA, or unitarian proportional system in Israel). We have our own experience, and there is no sense in making changes.
- What changes are important?
- It so happened that those who took part in previous election, got the status of election associations for ever. This situation should be changed. If the association participated in election and failed, it must lose its status. Only in such way all the participants of the next election will be in equal position by the start of election.
- Now as a rule famous people head all the lists of candidates, citizens do not know others. Do you think it is a normal situation?
- The problem is in the order of choosing the candidates. They are chosen by secret ballot. Quite naturally this secrecy raises many doubts and rumours about candidate list membership being bought. But the specific feature of this election is that the leaders of lists of candidates openly proclaim their unwillingness to work in Duma and absolutely do not notice their own cynicism.
- Russian political system is not stable. Should we wait for some changes after the election?
- Democracy is a very difficult institution of public administration, in which all interests of all groups are taken into consideration. In Russia it exists only during 6 years, and a lot has been done. To complete the forming of democracy we need 2-3 cycles of Duma functioning. And it will be a record in comparison with other countries.