Russia kicks off 7th presidential campaign trail

 Russia kicks off 7th presidential campaign trail

The Russian presidential campaign has officially started, the relevant upper house's resolution was published in Monday's edition of the government's Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper.

The Central Election Commission announced that an official presidential campaign officially begins after the publication of the resolution, exactly three months before the election date.

The Russian upper house officially set March 18, 2018 as the day for the presidential vote on Friday.

Candidates can be nominated by political parties that enjoy the right to participate. The Ministry of Justice compiles the list and sends it to the CEC after the campaign has been announced. At present, there are 69 such parties.

Political parties have 25 days following the start of the campaign to hold a congress and present all the required documents to the CEC. The congress of a political party approves of its presidential candidate. A Russian citizen can participate in the election as a self-nominee.

After the nomination candidates are free to set off on their election campaign trails. They can organize rallies, meet with the electorate, display billboards and arrange for the distribution of leaflets, calendars and other handouts.

Each candidate or authorized proxy shall bring all documents required for registration and voter signatures to the CEC in one package no earlier than 80 days and no later than 45 days before Election Day. Accordingly, the first day when a candidate will be able to apply for registration will be December 27, 2017. Candidates from parliamentary parties as a rule have the opportunity to be the first to be registered, because they do not have to collect signatures.

A self-nominee is obliged to present no less than 300,000 signatures, with each region accounting for no more than 7,500 signatures of local residents. 

A political party (except for parties having factions in the State Duma) is obliged to collect no fewer than 100,000 signatures in support of its candidate, with each Russian region accounting for no more than 2,500 signatures, and a similar amount can be collected outside Russia.

The deadline for submitting registration documents and signatures is 18:00 Moscow time on January 31, 2018. 

nder Russian legislation, electioneering in the media begins 28 days before Election Day and ends one day prior to the election. Saturday is a day of silence. Any campaigning on the eve of the election is prohibited.

Electioneering in the mass media will consist of televised debates and election videos.

On Sunday, March 18, 2018, a total of 96,000 polling stations will begin to open across the nation at 08:00 local time. The voting will last until 20:00 local time.

After the voting ends, the district election commissions will open the ballot boxes with the observers watching the process and count the votes. The returns will then be written down in the district commissions’ statements of votes (SOV). The 2018 election will see the introduction of a new QR-code technology. Each SOV will bear a unique QR-code to be identified by a special scanner. This will help avoid mistakes in feeding data into the national automated vote-counting system GAS Vybory.

The chief of each district election commission will take the SOV to the regional election commission, where the data will be uploaded into the GAS Vybory vote-counting system.

The Central Election Commission shall approve of the election returns within 10 days.

In order to clinch a victory in the first round, a candidate has to receive more than half of the votes who turned out. Should none of the candidates collect enough votes, a runoff election would be called within three weeks’ time for the frontrunner and the runner-up. A simple majority will determine the winner in that case.

The President of the Minchenko Consulting Communication Group, Yevgeny Minchenko, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the 7th presidential election campaign will be the calmest in the history of the Russian Federation. "It will be the most relaxed election campaign of Vladimir Putin. In 2000, there were Putin's first elections, which was a very important event, despite the fact that the main enemy was defeated already in the State Duma elections," he recalled.

"The 2004 elections took place against the backdrop of a coup d'etat, at least, so it was perceived by Putin's entourage. In 2012, the campaign was held against the backdrop of just-held mass protests. And now the campaign is rather casual," Yevgeny Minchenko said.

According to the expert, a number of measures taken by the state to improve the voting process will help raise the turnout in these elections. "Of course, the turnout will depend on the election campaign, and I think that the set of technical measures that has been taken is capable of giving an increase in turnout of up to 5%," the President of the Minchenko Consulting Communication Group predicts.

The struggle for the second place after the obvious leader Vladimir Putin, as before, will be between the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Vladimir Zhirinovsky and the head of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Gennady Zyuganov. "I do not know how much money should be invested in Ksenia Sobchak, so she could be at least third. Judging by the amount of air time, the Kremlin would be more comfortable with Zhirinovsky in second place," Yevgeny Minchenko concluded.

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