Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proposed on Tuesday legislative amendments to introduce primaries for all political parties.
“I would like to ask you to consider and discuss with your colleagues from other political parties ways of making such preliminary elections a legally binding norm,” Putin told a meeting of the All-Russia People’s Front (ARPF) coordinating council.
He said the ruling United Russia party’s list for the December State Duma elections could feature over 150 “non-party candidates” representing the ARPF.
The ARPR has offered a good platform for the discussion of such issues as the modernization of the healthcare and public education system, social policy and budget priorities, as well as the fight against extremism and the consolidation of civic and interethnic accord, Putin said.
“This work can and should be continued,” he said.
The ARPF primaries started on July 21 and were originally to end on August 10. However, due to the unexpectedly large number of participants they were extended by another two weeks.
After they end on August 25, the lists of candidates will be sent to the coordination council for consideration and will then go before the United Russia congress on September 23-24 in Moscow for final approval.
Putin called for the creation of the ARPF in May to broaden the party's electoral base with "non-party people," including trade unions, NGOs, business associations and youth groups.
Some analysts saw Putin's move as a bid to boost his United Russia party's flagging popularity and head off a potentially damaging poor showing in upcoming parliamentary elections.
Putin has said United Russia needs "an inflow of new ideas, new proposals, and new faces" ahead of the Duma elections.