We Need to Learn with Our Own Elections
This is a point of view of Alexander Ivanchenko, Chairman of the Central Election Commission of RF
- Alexander Vladimirovich, can you confess that you were surprised that the elections in Vladivostok finally took place?
- You know, to be involved in the election administration and not to be an optimist is just impossible. The CEC contribution in the resolution of the prolonged Vladivostok conflict makes the whole deal even more pleasant. Some time ago the Russian Constitution was not acting in the city.
- Do you think there will be no attempts to contest the election results?
- Why not? We already got grievances from two constituencies. But we are strictly observing the procedural requirements: first they must be considered by the constituency election commissions, then by the city election commission and only then by the CEC of RF, if of course our involvement is required. I am not excluding a possibility of court cases. But in any case this will concern only certain election constituencies. I mean, it will not concern the competence of the Legislative Assembly of Vladivostok as a whole.
- Didn't it seem unnatural to you, that the Mayor elections were cancelled several days before the elections?
- Not in the least. Primorye has long been under our control. The Primorsky Krai law contained a number of imperfections which were pointed out to the deputies of the Primorsky Krai Duma repeatedly from year to year, unfortunately, without success. Luckily, court jurisdictions timely interfered with the matter. I think, that the established legal basis will be helpful when in the end of the year Primorsky Krai is electing a governor.
- But Vladivostok was not an exception in terms of the election legislation imperfection?
- Of course, not. We come across collisions like this very often, when regional laws contradict the Constitution. Practically in all cases it is possible to claim the legislation for imperfection. In Saint-Petersburg, elections of local deputies lacked the law on elections. Can you imagine it that the deputies could not adopt a law for themselves! Right now the CEC is very much concerned with the situation in Udmurtiya, where elections of the State Council deputies are appointed for 4 April. The election campaign is going on in full, but there is no appropriate law for the elections.
- Have you started preparing for the Duma elections? For example, are you looking for ways to struggle with «dirty» election technologies that were excessively demonstrated during S.-Petersburgian elections?
- All technologies have been recorded, including the «dirty» technologies. The attraction of such, if you allow me, experts costs a lot of money. And believe me, this money is paid not out of the candidates' election funds. I think that future elections will not be able to do without loud scandals as a result of illegal financing. There is a very simple method of struggling with the so called «twins». We need to allow to put a pseudonym of the candidate in the ballot. Then there will be no mess with namesakes and homonyms.
In order to foresee all possible complications, it is necessary to adopt a new law on the elections of the deputies to the State Duma as soon as possible. I am sometimes joking that we will not let the deputies take vacations before they adopt the law. Otherwise we will not be able to avoid troubles.
- What is the probability of that the deputies will respond to your appeal?
- The new law will be adopted. I promise it. The deputies are obliged to do it.
- Before the New Year eve Russians were baffled with the agreement with Belarus. They were promised that in summer they will have a referendum on the issue of these two countries' unification. It looks like quite different elections may be in store for us?
- My vision is that there is a long way to go. First of all, we need to be done with the order. You are speaking about the referendum. But in Russia there is an appropriate constitutional law, and Byelorussia does not have any. Or let's take the parliamentary elections. We are using a mixed election system, and Byelorussians are using the majoritarian system. They do not have elections by party lists. It turns out that first we must develop national legislations in more detail. As to the dates, no election campaign will take us by surprise, no matter weather it is be a regional, federal or even interstate election campaign.
- There is a widespread opinion that the nation-wide voting is not a very effective means of electing high officials...
- I am strongly opposing any talks about that we need to give up the electivity of governors, municipality heads...The power should trust people more. If people decide that the Mayor should not be elected, but that he should be invited to work under contract, that is the way it should be. Our voters are educated well enough not to elect cheap popular people, but to elect real professionals. The best example is the Saint-Petersburgian elections.
- This is not for the first year, that experiments on the vote tallying are being done. We install electronic ballot boxes, use computer systems... To what extent are new technologies justified?
- Last Sunday we put on the State Automatic System «Vybory» in Vladivostok. To my mind, the result is visible. This equipment makes it possible to keep track of an every minute of the voting and tallying proocess. Everything is carefully timed, and if we see that a certain constituency has been late with the preliminary vote tallying, we take it under special control. Voters' lists, flow of finances to the election funds and their disposal - everything should be transparent. I am very proud of the fact that in this field Russia is becoming a lawmaker of the world's fashion. Do you think that foreign observers come here only to observe the elections? They come here to learn!
By Oleg Ovchinnikov
Newspaper «Obschaya Gazeta», 21-27 January 1999, No.3 (285)