United Russia gets a b(e)are majority in Duma

According to the preliminary results of Duma elections “United Russia” will secure 343 seats (out of 450), Communist Party – 42, LDPR – 39 and “Just Russia” – 23. “United Russia” got 100 seats more than in 2011.

On 18 September, from 08:00 to 20:00, Russians had twelve hours to vote for their new Duma of the seventh convocation and in some regions – for legislative assemblies and heads of executive bodies. A newly appointed Central Election Commission (CEC) Chairwoman Ella Pamfilova (who was a Russian Ombudswoman before) stated that the level of transparency of these elections was ‘incomparably higher’ than of the elections before. Once again, since 2003, Russia was electing Duma according to the double elections system (half parliamentarians elected in majoritarian single-mandate counties and half – through party lists). Two more counties were added this time – Crimea and Sevastopol. Out of 225 seats disseminated in accordance with the results in majoritarian counties, “United Russia” (“Yedinaya Rossiya”) got 203 mandates, Communist Party and “Just Russia” (“Spravedlivaya Rossiya”) – 7 seats each, and Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) – 5. One mandate each was acquired by “Motherland” (“Rodina”), “Civil Platform” (“Grazhdanskaya Platforma”) and one self-nominated candidate. According to party lists, “United Russia” will have 140 seats, Communist Party will get 35 mandates in Duma, LDPR – 34 and “Just Russia” 16.

Results from three polling stations can be recognized void. A criminal case has been opened in Rostov oblast due to the fact of stuffing in the bulletins. According to CEC preliminary results, 47,81 % (as compared to 60,1 % in 2011 elections) of Russians voted in the Duma elections and 54,24 % of them gave their vote for “United Russia”. The second place goes to the Communist Party with 13,44 %, LDPR has 13.25 % and “Just Russia” – 6,18 %. In 2016 elections the threshold for political parties was lowered from 7 to 5 %. There is no turnout barrier in Russia, below which the elections are considered void. In Moscow and St. Petersburg 30 and 16 % of citizens respectively came to vote. The turnout to 2016 elections was the lowest ever seen in Russia’s post-Soviet history.

Elections in Crimea and Sevastopol

“United Russia” counts on 62,5 % of seats at municipal assemblies in Sevastopol. Chairman of the Russian Duma of the sixth convocation Sergey Naryshkin stated that the high turnout in the elections in Crimea and Sevastopol confirms that these regions are the inalienable parts of Russia. Deputy Prime Minister of Crimea, Ruslan Balbek, said that Crimean tatars have shown an unprecedented turnout for the last 25 years in the Duma elections demonstrating their solidarity with the Russian people. Balbek underlined that not more than 30 % of Crimean tatars participated in Ukrainian elections before. On the other hand, as at 13:00 on 18 September, more than 40 % of Crimean tatars have casted their votes.

Head of Crimean Election Commission Mikhail Malyshev stated that there were no official written complaints about Duma elections, only single county commissions received such complaints. As at 18:00 18 September the overall turnout was 42,37 %.

Clashes near Russian embassy in Kyiv

Eight administrative protocols have been composed and two criminal cases opened as a result of clashes near diplomatic representations of Russia in Kyiv and Odessa. Four people in Odessa have been detained while trying to block the entrance to Russia’s General Consulate, among them – Sergiy Sternenko, Head of the Right Sector (Pravyy Sector) in Odessa. Near the embassy in Kyiv one Russian citizen has been beaten and left without voting.

Reactions to the results

President Putin commented on the results for his party “United Russia” as good, despite the difficulties in the country. Dmitriy Medvyedyev said that “United Russia” will have an absolute majority in the parliament.

Grigoriy Yavlinskiy, the founder of the liberal opposition party “Apple” (“Yabloko”) and No 1 on its party list, is going to run for Russian presidency despite the disappointing Duma elections results for his party – 1,86 %, which is also not enough to qualify for state funding. In a talk show after the election the party leader Lev Schlosberg said: “I want to say that I am sorry. We couldn't get through this iron curtain to our voters. We failed to engage our voters in discussion. They don't believe in elections anymore, and they stayed home. This is our fault, and our responsibility.”

Mikhail Kasyanov, a former prime minister and leader of another opposition party, Parnas, said after the first votes were counted that he was concerned about the low turnout: "Citizens had no faith in elections as an institution. This is the result of government policies. It's their fault." Parnas got 0,7 % of the votes and its member, Mikhail Schneider, commented on the main observed violations: mass lift and ‘cruise voting’. He said that ‘cruises’ are cruise buses that bring the same voters to different voting polls who vote several times with an absentee authorization. Schneider outlined that a mass lift is considered a violation only if organized by a candidate or structures, affiliated with him.

International observers

There were 264 000 observers at the polling stations.

The OSCE Election Observation Mission (EOM) marked amendments in electoral legislation, such as allowing independent candidates to participate and simplifying the requirements for registration of political parties. OSCE recommendations as for candidate rights, citizen observation and the guarantees for the freedom of assembly and expression remain to be addressed. Parties, candidates, media representatives and international observers could follow the electoral process, but the legislation does not provide for non-partisan citizen observation. Representatives of citizen observer groups stated that they intended to register as media or party/candidate observers. The election campaign has been characterized by EOM as low-key. Contestants focused on door-to-door campaigning, distribution of leaflets and some printed material in public places, as well as small-scale meetings. Campaigns were also conducted through advertisements in the media, Internet, and social media. The main topics were the socio-economic situation, political stability, patriotism and foreign policy issues.

Head of the Commonwealth of Independent States mission, Vladimir Garkun, said that “Russia has created all conditions for fruitful and comfortable work of international observers”. He said that the elections were open and competitive and CIS observers recorded only minor flaws, which could not influence the outcome of the transparent and democratic vote.

Sources: TASS newsru The Moscow Times Sputnik The World MK

Photo: sime simon

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