Russia’s lower house of parliament will will be dominated by Kremlin loyalists after United Russia won 51 percent of the vote, partial results showed. Voter turnout plummeted by 20 percent since the 2011 election.
Allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin comfortably won a parliamentary election, early results showed on Monday.
According to a preliminary central election commission tally after a quarter of the votes had been counted, the ruling United Russia party won 51 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election – up two percent on 2011’s parliamentary election.
“We can say with certainty that the party has achieved a very good result; it’s won,” Putin said at the United Russia headquarters, minutes after polling stations closed on Sunday evening.
According to the incomplete official vote count, the right-wing populist LDPR party was in second place with 17.2 percent, while the Communists came in third on 14.9 percent.
The Kremlin-friendly, pro-business Just Russia party garnered 6.4 percent, leaving them in fourth position.
Putin said United Russian’s win showed that voters still trusted the leadership, despite an economic slowdown made worse by Western sanctions over Ukraine. Russia’s spluttering economy is forecast to shrink by at least 0.3 percent this year.
“We know that life is hard for people, there are lots of problems, lots of unresolved problems. Nevertheless, we have this result,” Putin said.
United Russia, which was founded by Putin, will now be able to extend its dominance in Russia’s 450-seat lower house of parliament, or Duma.
The victory is also of personal interest to Putin, whose aides are likely to use the result as a springboard for his campaign for re-election in 2018. The President is yet to confirm, however, whether he will seek another term in office.
Despite the success of United Russia on Sunday, the election’s low turnout suggested a softening of enthusiasm for the ruling elite.
According to election officials, two hours before polling stations closed on Sunday, turnout was at 39.4 percent, marking a huge drop from the 60 percent turnout seen at the last parliamentary election.
In the Siberian region of Altai, Russian officials were investigating reports of vote rigging. If the allegations are confirmed, the results from that region could be discounted.
The last parliamentary election in 2011 was also marked with widespread allegations of vote fraud, prompting anti-government demonstrations.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was monitoring the elections throughout the country on Sunday – except in Crimea, which they consider an illegally seized part of Ukraine.
ksb/jm (Reuters, AP, AFP)