State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian
The State Duma is one of the two chambers of the Federal Assembly – the parliament of the Russian Federation. According to the Constitution of the Russian Federation (Article 94), the parliament of the Russian Federation is the country’s representative and legislative body.
The State Duma is comprised of 450 deputies who are elected on the basis of universally equal and direct electoral rights in secret voting for a period of five years. The minimum age for a candidate is 21 years.
The procedure for electing deputies to the State Duma is described by the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the federal laws “On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right to Participate in a Referendum of Citizens of the Russian Federation” and “On Elections of Deputies of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation”.
Provisions on the legal status of deputies of the State Duma are contained in the Federal Law “On the Status of a Member of the Federation Council and the Status of a Deputy of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation” as well as in the Regulation of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. Deputies of the State Duma work on a permanent professional basis. They may not have citizenship of a foreign state, a residence permit, or other document confirming the right to permanent residence in the territory of a foreign state. They may not engage in state or municipal service or other paid activities except for teaching, scientific, and other creative activities.
The State Duma meets in session with two sessions held each year: in autumn and spring. The chamber’s primary activities include the consideration of draft federal constitutional and federal laws. A federal law is adopted if 226 or more deputies vote for it. A federal constitutional law must be approved by a special majority – two-thirds of the total number of deputies (at least 300).
In addition to approving federal constitutional laws and adopting federal laws, the powers of the State Duma include granting the President of the Russian Federation consent to appoint the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, decide on the issue of confidence in the Government of the Russian Federation, appoint and dismiss the Chairman of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Russian Federation, the Chairman of the Audit Chamber, and half of its auditors. In addition, the State Duma has the authority to declare amnesty and participate in the approval of ambassadors.
Parliamentary control over the activities of the executive bodies is an important procedure. It is exercised in the form of hearing the annual reports of the Government of the Russian Federation and sending parliamentary or deputy requests as well as verbal or written questions to representatives of the Government of the Russian Federation and the federal authorities.
The State Duma passes resolutions on matters falling within its authority. The procedure for the chamber’s activities and internal organization are governed by regulations that are adopted by the State Duma independently. Deputies elect the Chairman of the State Duma and deputy chairmen from amongst their own ranks and form committees, commissions, and factions.
On September 18, 2016, elections were held for the State Duma of the seventh convocation, which took place according to party lists (225 seats) and single-member constituencies (225 seats). The United Russia party received 343 seats, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation – 42, the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia – 39, and the A Just Russia party – 23. Representatives of the Motherland and Civil Platform parties took one seat each.
The Chairman of the State Duma is Vyacheslav Volodin (United Russia).
The first deputy chairmen of the State Duma are deputies elected from United Russia (Alexander Zhukov) and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (Ivan Melnikov), while the deputy chairmen of the State Duma include representatives of all four factions. Thirteen of 26 committees are headed by deputies from the United Russia faction, 5 committees by deputies from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, and 3 committees by deputies from the A Just Russia party.
The State Duma is an active participant in international and regional parliamentary organizations in whose activities it participates as the State Duma itself as well as its committees, inter-parliamentary commissions, and deputy groups in cooperation with the parliaments of other countries.
The State Duma has representation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Belarus and Russia. Deputies take part in such parliamentary organizations as the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the Member States of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, and others.
Parliamentarians from the Soviet Union and Russian Federation have constantly participated in the work of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) since 1955. The next and 137th Assembly of the IPU will take place in October 2017 in St Petersburg.
The chamber’s activities in inter-parliamentary cooperation promote the exchange of experience with foreign delegations, the harmonization of domestic and international law, and legislative support for decisions adopted by the executive authorities. As part of bilateral contacts and various parliamentary events, including within the framework of inter-parliamentary organizations, the State Duma explains Russia’s approaches to pressing international problems, exchanges views on law-making activities, and establishes constructive interaction.