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City news, 04.09.2007 16:21

City Officials Lay Out Election Plans

government_smolniy By Ali Nassor

Special to The St. Petersburg Times

The St. Petersburg Election Commission announced the completion of preparations for the pre-election campaigning for the Russian federal parliament on Monday, a day after President Vladimir Putin signed the election decree signaling the go-ahead for the race.

As the decree comes into force following its publication in the government gazette, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, on Tuesday, the St. Petersburg Election Commission said it has partitioned the city into five electoral districts: Eastern, Western, Northern, Southern and Central Districts.

The new districts have neen drawn so that “the confusion rampant in the past, where the electoral districts overlapped one another, can be avoided,” head of the St. Petersburg Election Commission, Alexander Gnyotov, said on Monday.

The new districts are among 153 electoral districts across Russia.

Turnout is expected to be 50 percent in St. Petersburg.

“I don’t expect more than 50 percent turnout from the 3.7 million eligible voters in the city” he said, pointing to what he called “the traditionally passive nature of the eligible voters in the city.”

To boost the turnout, Gnyotov, citing the new law, urged students living in St. Petersburg dormitories but belonging to non-St Petersburg electoral districts to take part in the local elections.

According to him, students, who constitute 10 percent of the eligible voters in the city, are the most passive voters. "But if properly recruited they can make a big difference,” Gnyotov said.

“The ball is in the election campaigners’ court,” he said.

The old law did not allow non-residents of St Petersburg to vote for local deputies.

He also called upon the sailors and sea-route passenger operators to consult his commission to work out ways St. Petersburgers aboard the vessels can take part in Dec. 2 elections.

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