The State Duma (Russian Parliament's lower house) has passed the law "On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation".
The law was presented to deputies by Alexander Saliy, deputy chairman of the State Duma committee for state development. He stressed that the bill envisaged preserving the effective majority two-round electoral system. A candidate should gain at least 50% of the vote to become president. The election is valid, if voter turnout is at least 50%.
At the same time, some articles of the law have been seriously amended. A self-nominating candidate needs to be supported by an initiative group of at least 500 people. A candidate also needs to collect at least 2 million signatures of electors (1 million according to the effective law). In addition, the number of signatures to be collected in one constituent member of the Russian Federation is reduced from 70,000 to 50,000.
Parties and blocs passing the 5% electoral threshold have the right to nominate their candidates without collection of signatures.
According to the law, the presidential campaign's duration is reduced from five to three months.
The law imposes certain restrictions on presidential candidates. A former president cannot stand for election if the election was appointed after the president abnegated his powers. A candidate cannot stand for election if he has no right to hold state offices according to a court decision. A Russian citizen during the second term of his presidency on the day of the election's appointment has no right to be elected president.
Candidates on state or municipal service at the exception of president of the Russian Federation and deputies of all levels and candidates working in organisations possessing mass media are exempted from performing their duties for the period of running for elections.
The law stipulates that the election of the Russian president shall be held on the second Sunday of March, 2004, that is, on March 14th.