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The Duma Election Rules


Parties have only penetrated very limited sectors of the Russian state. They have played a marginal role in structuring votes and an even lesser role in influencing the main parts of the Russian government, such as the presidential administration, the federal government, the Federation Council, regional heads of administration, and regional parliaments. One area in which parties have succeeded in playing a central role in competing in elections is the lower house of parliament, the State Duma. 

The State Duma building in Moscow. Photo: Oleg Mosienko

According to the Duma election rules, contestants vie for all 450 seats in the chamber. Half of them go to the winners in individual constituencies, where candidates are elected on a first-past-the-post system (i.e., on the basis of simple plurality, when the candidate with more votes than any other is elected). The remaining 225 seats go to parties and political blocs (the so-called party-list vote, when the votes are cast for one of the parties listed on the ballot).

Parties and blocs must garner more than 5 percent of votes to enter parliament (a new rule of a higher, 7 percent, minimal threshold will come into effect from 2007 parliamentary elections). The Central Election Commission divides the total number of ballots cast for parties and blocs by the number of seats they contest (225). This allows it to establish how many ballots were cast for each seat. Then the number of votes cast for each party is divided by the number of votes for each seat, giving the parties a particular amount of places in the Duma.

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