Regional Elections in the Russian Federation: The Example of Ryazan

Bernard Owen

Ryazan (Russian: Рязань) is a city and the administrative center of Ryazan Oblast, Russia, located on the Oka River 196 kilometers (122 mi) southeast of Moscow. Population: 524,927 (2010 Census);[6] 521,560 (2002 Census);[10] 514,638 (1989 Census).[11]

 The monitoring group of the regional elections in Russia decided to invite members of parliament and researchers  from different countries to participate and share the election process.

As far as France was concerned, everything went fine. The elections were well organized and we learned a lot about the process.

It began with a conference with a Senate committy where we were able to intervene. The next day we were sent to Ryazan. We were explained a new element in the electoral law that allowed a citizen to vote away from where he was registed should he need or wish to do so. I thought the idea was great but was afraid the task would complicate the work of the officials incharge of the polling stations.  This election was a test of this measure and apparently it worked well.

As far asthevoting itself, it used two methods: the rgular transparent ballot box and secondly, an electronic one.  The latter  sanned the bulletins inserted in it and then gave the number of voters that used, and after closing of polling station, the officials would be able to print out all the results.

We visited small and large polling stations, in big andsmall cities, and even one in the countrysied.  In all ofthem there were local observers, whether party members or journalists. The last polling station we visited included music, a young member of the communist party and avery warmwelcomme, which was acutally the general attitude upon our arrival.

In the evening of the voting day, we returned to the Regional Electoral Commission. We were tired but happy to havewitnessed the new system put in place.

Wehaveto conlude that polling stations were well organized. Most of those who headed the polling station committeees were women.  The information for the voter was very visible.  At every time, officials were receptive to our concerns.

Cannot refrain from thinking about our own electoral procedures, i.e. France. The main political parties in France have introduced the system of primaries which are very divisive as Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in « Democracy in America »? De tocqueville was a 19th century author and visitor of the young American republic, who wrote that it wasdangerous to have too many elections.