Russia’s ruling United Russia party managed to cling on to its majority in the lower house in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, despite failing to get a majority of votes in an election that was marred by accusations of vote rigging and intimidation by opposition parties.
With 96 per cent of ballots counted on Monday, United Russia, the party of prime minister Vladimir Putin, had 49.54 per cent of the vote, down from 64.3 per cent in 2007, which would give the party 238 seats in the 450-seat parliament, down from 315.
Some of the highest results pro came from the ethnic republics like those of the north Caucasus (99% Chechens voted for the UR), Mordovia and Tuva (85%)/
Mr Putin, who will be running for president in March, said the result “would allow us to guarantee stability of the development of our state”. Few doubt he will still prevail in March, but “the climate for Putin has suddenly become very uncomfortable”, said Alexei Mitrofanov, a deputy from the Just Russia party, which took 13 per cent.
Gleb Pavlovsky, head of the Foundation for Effective Politics, called the result “the destruction of the top-down political model”, adding that the behaviour of the Kremlin, which last September had presented the voters with a fait accompli in the return of Mr Putin to the presidency next year, has made everyone “exhausted”.
Boris Gryzlov, the speaker of the Duma, the lower house of parliament, tried to put a brave face on the poor showing. “United Russia won,” he said. “In a period of global economic turmoil, we received the support of our electorate.” He compared Russia favourably to Britain, Spain and Portugal which in the past two years have seen ruling parties driven from government in elections.
The Communists emerged as the second biggest party in the Duma with 19.2 per cent of the vote, with the Liberal Democratic party of Russia, the LDPR run by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, behind them with 11.7 per cent. Just Russia recorded 13 per cent of the vote, according to figures from the electoral commission.