Chechnya Schedules Preterm Parliamentary Elections
June 20, 2016
by Liz Fuller
At the proposal of parliamentary speaker Magomed Daudov, Chechnya's 41 lawmakers voted unanimously on June 16 to dissolve the legislature and schedule preterm parliamentary elections for September 18, concurrently with elections for the new Russian State Duma and for the post of Chechen Republic head.
Both Daudov and acting Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov adduced as the rationale for that decision the need to avoid the additional expenditure a separate parliamentary ballot would entail. The money saved could, Daudov suggested, be invested in economic development or resolving social problems.
Russian commentators have cast doubt on that argument, however. Aleksei Makarkin of the Center for Political Technologies pointed out that since the outgoing parliament was elected in September 2013 for a five-year term, it would have been equally feasible to save money by scheduling a parliamentary ballot concurrently with the Russian presidential election due no later than March 2018, i.e. just six months early.
Political scientist Rostislav Turovsky said the amount saved by holding a preterm parliamentary ballot in September 2016 would not be large. Turovsky opined that Kadyrov's real motive was to inject "new blood" into the parliament by weeding out lawmakers who have already served three terms and replacing them with younger people who, while lacking in administrative experience, are 100 percent loyal to Kadyrov personally.
Kheda Saratova, who heads Chechnya's presidential human rights commission, similarly suggested that Kadyrov was not satisfied with the work of the current parliament. She observed that "there are people who just sit there and do nothing, which is a reason for renewing them with younger and more energetic [people] who will prove more useful."
Addressing parliament deputies in July, on the occasion of Daudov's election as speaker, Kadyrov had stressed the need for them "to know your voters' problems, to be frank with them, and to enjoy authority [among them]. You will bring even greater benefit to your people if you make an effort to discharge your duties efficiently."
Chechnya's human rights ombudsman, Nurdi Nukhazhiyev, indirectly confirmed that the object of the exercise is to renew the composition of the parliament, given that some lawmakers have already served three consecutive terms.
Kadyrov crony Ziyad Sabsabi, who represents Chechnya in the Federation Council, linked the decision to hold a preterm election with the desire to bring in new, younger people once Kadyrov is reelected for a third term as republic head.
State Duma deputy Dmitry Gudkov for his part posited a more sinister rationale, namely to set a precedent for a procedure that could subsequently be applied elsewhere in the Russian Federation in situations where the legislature defies the governor or federation-subject head.
The Chechen parliament is elected exclusively under the proportional system, the threshold for winning representation being 5 percent. The pro-Kremlin United Russia party has a huge majority (36) in the outgoing parliament; A Just Russia has four deputies and Patriots of Russia one.
Copyright (c) 2016. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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