Russia’s Constitutional Court declined today to rule on the constitutionality of the requirement that parties must score at least five percent of the votes to qualify for parliamentary seats assigned by party list. The regulation was originally designed to persuade Russia’s fractious political parties to unite into half a dozen electoral blocks, but it failed. Now, with 43 parties and blocks registered for the election, small parties with little hope of winning a seat have been trying to get the rules changed. Irina Khakamada, leader of the Common Cause electoral bloc, called for the 5 percent threshold to be abolished or lowered to allow deputies from a wider range of parties to win seats. Her proposal was resisted by the Central Election Commission, which insists that the electoral law is fair and democratic. The leader of the Women of Russia parliamentary faction, Yekaterina Lakhova, who expects to do well in the elections, also argued against changing the regulations at this late stage, on the grounds that "We must abide by laws even when they are imperfect." (9)
Dudayev Holds News Conference Amid General Criticism of Yeltsin’s "Electoral Farce" Order.