In what has become a common political tactic in modern Russia, the next round of State Duma elections may be moved up to an earlier date than originally planned. On Monday, a bill proposing that the elections to Russia’s lower house of parliament scheduled for December 2016 be pushed forward to September was submitted for consideration. Russian parliamentary elections have been held in December since 1993. However, Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin recently said that lawmakers should now be elected before budgets are passed later in the fall. Some commentators have noted that the new timing would place campaigning in the middle of the Russian vacation season. Others have suggested that incumbent legislators may favor earlier elections to stay ahead of rising discontent over the recent economic downturn in Russia.
Allegations of fraud in the last Duma elections in December 2011 sparked mass protests of a size and intensity before unseen in Putin’s Russia, and avoiding a repeat of this scenario is certainly on the minds of ruling party officials. Yet it is not completely clear how moving the elections up three months would address the potential for renewed unrest.
If the date for the next Duma elections is indeed changed, as expected, this will mark only the latest such move in recent years. Just last month, a wave of governors, including those of the Irkutsk, Omsk, Kamchatka and Leningrad regions, formally resigned to force early elections in September, until which time they will continue to serve as acting governors.
These governors are likely looking to extend their mandates before the shock of Russia’s recent economic downturn erodes their popularity. Other governors, such as those from the Orenburg and Nizhny Novgorod regions, pulled the same stunt last year and successfully won re-election, extending their time in office.
Full Article: Why Russia Has Early Elections | Opinion | The Moscow Times.