Putin’s party scores crushing win in elections
RUSSIA’S ruling United Russia party cruised to an easy victory in parliamentary polls that could pave the way for President Vladimir Putin to a fourth term in 2018 elections.
The ballot for the 450-seat State Duma was smooth sailing for authorities desperate to avoid a repeat of mass protests last time round and eager to increase their dominance as Russia faces the longest economic crisis of Mr Putin’s rule.
But a low turnout suggested that many Russians may be turned off by a system in which the Kremlin wields near-total power, which could raise questions over legitimacy.
“We can announce already with certainty that the party secured a good result, that it won,” Mr Putin said on state television after the vote.
“The situation is tough but the people still voted for United Russia.”
With 90 percent of the votes counted, the United Russia party had 54.3 percent of votes, securing at least 338 seats in the 450-member parliament, up from 238 previously.
It was followed by the Communists and the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party, on 13.5pc and 13.3pc respectively, and A Just Russia, which received 6.2pc.
Those four parties – which made up the last parliament and all back the Kremlin – were the only ones to clear the 5pc threshold needed to claim a share of the one-half of seats up for grabs.
The vote comes as Putin’s approval ratings remain high at around 80pc and authorities appear to be banking on trouble-free presidential elections in two years. –
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Prime Minister and chair of the United Russia political party Dmitry Medvedev (second right) visit the party’s election campaign headquarters in Moscow on September 18.