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Putin signs decree on holding parliamentary elections Dec. 2 -2

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President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on holding elections to the State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, on December 2, the presidential press office said Sunday.
(Recasts, adds additional information in paras 6-7)

MOSCOW, September 2 (RIA Novosti) - President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on holding elections to the State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, on December 2, the presidential press office said Sunday.

The decree gives an official start to parliamentary electoral campaigns in Russia.

The elections to the State Duma will be held according to a principally new scheme in Russia. In accordance with a new election law, all the 450 deputies will be elected on party lists, with the minimum threshold of 7% for political parties. The law prohibits the formation of election blocs. The law has removed the column "against all candidates" from ballot papers and scrapped the minimum voter turnout requirement.

Central Election Commission (CEC) Chairman Vladimir Churov earlier said the federal budget would allocate over 4 billion rubles (about $160 million) for parliamentary elections slated for December 2.

Churov also said over 107 million voters had been registered as of July 1, or 600,000 fewer than before the previous State Duma elections in 2003.

According to a poll held recently by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM), only four parties in Russia have the chances of overcoming the 7% barrier to be elected to the State Duma: the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, the Communist Party (KPRF), the newly established Just Russia and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR).

According to the poll results, United Russia is expected to gain 57% (257 seats in the State Duma), the Communists 18% (81 seats), Just Russia 14% (64 seats) and the LDPR about 11% (48 seats). The liberal Union of Right Forces and the opposition Yabloko party are expected to win only 4.4% and 2.7%, respectively, at the parliamentary elections, the poll results suggest.

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