Medvedev proposes extending presidential, parliamentary terms
05/11/2008 16:42 (Adds details in paras 5-6)
MOSCOW, November 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev proposed on Wednesday the extension of presidential and parliamentary terms from the current four years to six and five years, respectively.
In his first state-of-the-nation address to parliament, Medvedev said that he proposed "extending the terms of office for the president and the State Duma [the lower house] to six and five years."
"I am convinced that our progress toward freedom and democracy will be successful and unwavering only if the prestige of the president and the State Duma is sufficiently high and based on the practical results of their activities, and if they have enough time to put their pledges into practice," Medvedev said.
Commenting on whether a nationwide referendum would be held on the issue, the chairman of Russia's Central Election Commission, Vladimir Churov, later said, "We will see."
Larisa Brycheva, a presidential aide, said constitutional amendments to extend the term in office of the Russian president would not require a referendum.
Brycheva said the necessary amendments would have to be approved by legislatures in at least two thirds of Russian regions to come into effect, and warned that the terms of the current president and parliament would not be affected.
To counterbalance an extension of the presidential term of office, Medvedev suggested granting greater powers to parliament. In particular, he proposed placing the activities of the government, headed by his predecessor and political mentor, Vladimir Putin, under the supervision of the State Duma.
"We will have to tackle a host of difficult tasks: to tackle the global crisis and the difficulties of competition, to upgrade the army and run a giant country with an intricate ethnic and cultural composition, and in these circumstances strengthen democratic institutions and maintain stability," the president said.
"We should consider reducing gradually the number of voter signatures for those intending to run in State Duma elections," Medvedev also told parliament.
Medvedev also proposed the guarantee of parliamentary seats for parties that win between 5% and 7%,
"I believe parties that win between 5% and 7% of the vote may be able to count on one or two seats," the president said.
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