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Medvedev sets parliamentary election date

Medvedev sets parliamentary election date
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Russia’s President Medvedev has named the day for parliamentary elections. As expected, they will take place on December 4, setting the scene for the presidential election next March.

The Duma, or lower house, is dominated by the United Russia party of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Members are elected for five years.

“I would very much like the makeup of the future Duma to reflect the preferences of the broadest circle of our citizens to the maximum extent possible,” President Dmitry Medvedev told party leaders.

Currently the Duman is dominated by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party

The vote is by party list with no races between individual candidates.

Steered into the presidency in 2008 by Putin, who faced a constitutional bar on a third straight term, Medvedev has loosened electoral laws, making it slightly easier for other parties to field candidates and win seats.

Critics say the changes are cosmetic adjustments designed to appease critics of United Russia while keeping the political system intact.

Putin has hinted he is trying to decide whether to run for a return to the presidency next March or endorse his protege Medvedev for a second term. Analysts say he may not make a decision public until after the parliamentary election.