After a three-day election was held, President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party has retained its majority in the Russian Parliament. This corresponds with a failed attempt by the imprisoned dissident Alexei Navalny and his team, who established a strategy called Smart Voting, to garner votes away from the Kremlin.
After almost 99% of polling stations’ ballots were counted, United Russia held 49.8% of the vote. According to The Irish Examiner, this was for the ‘225 seats apportioned by parties, according to the Central Electoral Commission. Another 225 legislators are chosen directly by voters’.
This is a drop in support compared to the 2016 election, as it won 54% of the vote in that election. Meanwhile, the Communist Party improved its share of the vote after it won 19% of the party-list vote.
‘The head of the Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova, confirmed at a briefing that United Russia has retained the constitutional majority in the parliament, or two-thirds of the 450 seats required for a party to be allowed to make changes to the country’s constitution.
The results indicated there will be almost no opposition voices in the Duma, with three other parties that usually toe the Kremlin line set to take many of the remaining seats, along with the New People party, which was formed last year and is regarded by many as a Kremlin-sponsored project.
According to Ms Pamfilova, candidates from three other parties each won a seat, so eight political parties will be represented in the Duma. Voter turnout stood at 51.68%, she added’.
The Guardian said that ‘according to Kremlin critics, they believe that ‘the vote was in any case a sham and that United Russia would have fared much worse in a fair contest, given a pre-election crackdown that outlawed Navalny’s movement, barred his allies from running and targeted critical media and non-governmental organisations’.
The Guardian elaborated, saying that the result ‘is unlikely to change the political landscape, with Putin, who has been in power as president or prime minister since 1999, still dominating ahead of the next presidential election in 2024. Putin has yet to say whether he will run. The 68-year-old leader remains a popular figure with many Russians who credit him with standing up to the west and restoring national pride’.
However, in some cases, ‘the election commission was slow to release data from online voting in Moscow, where United Russia traditionally does not fare as well as in other regions. Pro-Kremlin candidates were leading in the majority of the city’s 15 districts before the online votes were tallied’.
Further, The Guardian said that ‘the Central Election Commission said it had recorded 12 cases of ballot stuffing in eight regions and that the results from those polling stations would be voided.
The Kremlin denies a politically driven crackdown and says individuals are prosecuted for breaking the law. Both it and United Russia denied any role in the registration process for candidates’.
In summary, while Putin’s United Russia suffered a decline in support compared to the previous election, this election consolidates Putin’s majority. Evidence appears to show that his continued popularity is because of his ability to ‘stand up to the West’. Whether he runs again for president in 2024, remains to be seen.