Russia’s lower house of parliament on Tuesday voted in favour of amending the constitution to enable President Vladimir Putin to run for another term.
The draft amendment applies to the “current president” to enable him to run for election “without taking into account the number of terms during which he has held this position,” according to an excerpt reported by state media.
It was the second of three voting sessions by the lower house, before the bill progresses to the upper house.
The draft legislation was part of a raft of reforms of the country’s constitution initially proposed by Putin during his state of the nation speech two months ago.
Some of the changes would boost the authority of the government’s legislative branch, currently dominated by the political party most closely associated with Putin, United Russia.
The proposed legislation would also enshrine a ban on gay marriage in Russia’s constitution, as well as an attestation of faith in God, a marked departure from the atheist doctrine of the Soviet Union.
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Putin said in a speech to the lower house of parliament that he would approve an amendment to enable him to run for re-election, and adding that it would need to be approved by Russia’s Constitutional Court.
The 67-year-old has been in power as president or prime minister for two decades. He is the longest-serving Russian or Soviet leader since Joseph Stalin.
Putin said in the speech that he did not support a proposal to eliminate the limit on the number of presidential terms.
The constitution in its current form allows a president to serve for two consecutive terms, meaning that Putin would have to leave the presidency in four years.
Putin served two four-year terms as president from 2000 to 2008. After that the constitution was amended to provide six-year terms, and Putin returned the presidency in 2012 and was re-elected in 2018.
Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, a well-known lawmaker, Valentina Tereshkova, proposed eliminating the limit on the number of presidential terms. The motion was promptly supported by United Russia.
“I propose either removing the limit on presidential terms” or making it so that Putin or any other citizen could run for election as head of state, said Tereshkova, a former cosmonaut who in the early 1960s became the first woman in space.