Russian Legislative Elections: Putin-backed United Russia's big victory
United Russia political party that is backed by President Vladimir Putin has won a landslide victory in the Russian parliamentary elections leaving its rivals far behind. The party secured 54.2% of votes and 343 seats in the 450-member State Duma (parliament), after 93% of the votes were counted. Putin said the party achieved a "very good result"; the voter turnout was only 47.8%.
Legislative elections in Russia
Russia is a federation and semi-presidential republic where the head of the state is the President while the Prime Minister is the head of government. Legislative elections for electing members of the 450-seat State Duma (Federal Assembly of Russia's lower house) are held once in five years (for four years till 2008) through proportional representation. The 2016 elections were held on 18 September.
Deep economic malaise and tensions with the West
President Putin stated: "We know that life is hard for people, there are lots of problems, lots of unresolved problems. Nevertheless, we have this result." Russia has been facing a deep economic malaise and tensions with the West of late.
2016 legislative election increased United Russia's majority
The 2016 legislative election increased United Russia party's majority in the State Duma. In the previous parliamentary election held in 2011, the party secured 49% of the votes and 238 seats. The Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev-led party will now take 343 seats. However, the voter turnout, this time, was the lowest in the country's modern history; it was lower than 60% turnout in 2011.
All four major parties loyal to President Putin
Other political parties secured very few ballots as United Russia was far ahead of them. The nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and the Communist Party achieved 13.16% and 13.35% of votes respectively. 'A Just Russia' party gained only 6.2% of the votes. United Russia along with these three parties dominated the previous parliament; all the four parties are reportedly loyal to President Putin.
Insufficient votes for party-list representation
Liberal opposition parties reportedly were unsuccessful in securing enough votes - 5% of the total votes - for party-list representation. Yabloko and Parnas - the two major opposition parties that were allowed to field candidates - secured only 1.89% and 0.7% respectively.
Voting irregularities reported in three places
Russian Election Commission chief Ella Pamfilova was confident the elections preceded in a legitimate manner. However, she warned the results at three of the polling stations could be canceled due to irregularities. State-owned Rossiya-24 TV channel reported allegations of voting frauds and stated they were being investigated. Reports of irregularities were reported in the Barnaul city (Siberian region), Dagestan's Khunzakh district, and southern Rostov.
Crimea votes for the first time
People of Crimea - annexed from Ukraine in an internationally-condemned move in 2014 - voted for the first time. United Russia party won all the constituency seats. Putin's firm ally and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov secured 98% of the votes in the region.