Deputies of the Legislative Assembly of Primorsky Territory on Wednesday amended the region's electoral code, increasing the number of signatures of "top-level" municipal deputies needed to overcome the municipal filter in the gubernatorial election from 5% to 8% of their total number. The authors of the initiative explained this by a decrease in the number of local deputies due to the municipal reform. At the same time, the total number of municipal signatures required for registration has not changed and is 7%. So far, none of the politicians, including Governor Oleg Kozhemyako, has announced their intention to participate in the September elections for the head of Primorye.
The need to amend the electoral code, the deputies explained the ongoing municipal reform in Primorye. Since 2019, the region has been in the process of transforming municipal districts into districts. At the same time, the representative bodies of the settlements cease their activity, and, accordingly, the number of deputies is reduced. 16 municipal districts have already been created in the region, the two-level system of local self-government remains in six municipal districts. According to the statistics given at the session, if in 2014 there were 2,142 municipal deputies in Primorye, by 2023 there will be only 637 of them.
According to federal law, a candidate for governor must submit signatures in his support from 5% to 10% of deputies and heads of municipalities (MO) in the region. At the same time, from 5% to 10% of the signatories should be municipalities of the second, "upper level", that is, represent districts, municipal and urban districts. The exact percentages of the municipal filter are set by the subjects of the Russian Federation themselves. In Primorye in 2018, in order to register candidates for governors, they had to collect 142 signatures in at least 26 municipalities, and at least 33 of them had to belong to deputies and heads of the second-level municipalities. Self-nominated candidates, in addition to overcoming the filter, are required to collect 0.5% of the signatures of the region's voters in their support.
This automatically leads to a decrease in the absolute number of signatures required to register candidates for the post of head of the region. “After all, this is a governor, so the number of signatures and support, of course, should be much wider,” substantiated the need to increase the share of second-level signatures from 5% to 8%, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Regional Policy and Legality Sergei Ishchenko (United Russia) . Only the communist Vladimir Bespalov tried to object, noting that the tightening of the municipal filter would put the candidates "in unequal conditions." However, with 26 votes in favor and 6 against amendments to the Electoral Code were adopted.
“Today we have changed the percentage that affects the ratio within the total number of signatures between deputies of the second level and deputies and heads of the first level (settlements). The percentage of the total number of deputies remains the same - 7%," Tatyana Gladkikh, chairman of the regional election committee, commented to Kommersant on the amendments. In her opinion, the changes will provide "the most optimal ratio of signatures in support of the nomination of candidates for the post of governor by deputies and heads of various levels."
The exact number of signatures required for registration, according to the head of the electoral committee, is now premature to name, since the municipal reform in the region continues.
“The number will be determined at the start of the campaign. But, of course, it will be much less than in 2018,” Gladkikh said.
The next gubernatorial elections in Primorye are scheduled for September this year. So far, none of the politicians has publicly announced their intention to run for this post, including the current head of the region, Oleg Kozhemyako. Rumors have been circulating in the region for a long time that the governor would like to go to work at the federal level. His press secretary Makar Rudenchik did not answer Kommersant's question.
Anatoly Dolgachev, the first secretary of the regional committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, told Kommersant that the Communist Party does not have the number of local deputies necessary to overcome the municipal filter, so for the communists "in principle, nothing has changed with an increase from 5% to 8%." According to Mr. Dolgachev, the decision on the possibility of nominating a candidate for governor from the Communist Party will be made later and "at the level of the Central Committee of the party."
Recall, the election of the governor of Primorye in September 2018 ended in a scandal. The candidate from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Andrei Ishchenko, who entered the second round, was in the lead after processing 95% of the protocols, but at the last moment, the acting head of the United Russia region, Andrei Tarasenko, pulled ahead. Three days later, the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation acknowledged the results of the Primorsky elections are invalid due to violations, and six days later, President Vladimir Putin appointed to the post of Acting Head of the Sakhalin Region Governor Oleg Kozhemyako. Nominate Andrey Ishchenko for the repeat elections held in December 2018 by the regional committee of the Communist Party refused because of "the understanding that it is impossible to overcome the municipal filter." Mr. Ishchenko failed to collect the required number of signatures on his own, and Oleg Kozhemyako was elected governor in the first round.