PARTIES TO BE FORCED TO BECOME MASS ASSOCIATIONS

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MOSCOW, September 5 (RIA Novosti) - The number of federal parties is to be drastically cut by the next Duma elections. Only a few out of the current 40 political structures will be allowed to participate in the elections under the new rules. Amendments are now being drafted to the law on parties to increase the minimal number of party members from 10,000 to 50,000. Even the most famous parties, such as the SPS (Union of Right Forces) and the LDPR risk failing to overcome this barrier, NG reports.

The State Duma will not receive a bill introducing the proportionate system of elections from the president until late October. The Duma committee for state development will consider the amendment to the law on parties with the committee for public associations early next week. In the past few days, NG sources in the presidential administration spoke about the minimum party membership being set at 50,000 people.

United Russia is the indisputable leader in these terms, as has 840,000 members. The Communist Party is in second place. Late last year, the Communists reported to the Justice Ministry that it has 186,000 members (the figure might be 250,000 today). The People's Party has also recorded a healthy increase with membership reaching 120,000 late last year. Yabloko has 85,000 members, the Agrarians 60,000, and the Russian Party of Life 90,000. However, the SPS (35,000) and the LDPR (38,000) may fall victim to the new law. This is even more applicable to the numerous "outsider" parties, who make up the majority of Russia's parties. For example, Democratic Russia and its 13,000 members may be excluded from mainstream politics.

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