By Stephen Lendman
On December 4, parliamentary elections were held to fill 450 State Duma seats, Russia’s Federal Assembly lower house.
With nearly all votes counted, RIA Novosti said Medvedev/Putin’s United Russia party won 238 seats, falling slightly below a majority with 49.67% of the vote.
It added that it’s “a far cry from the commanding two-thirds constitutional majority the party held in the State Duma for the past four years” based on tabulated results so far.
United Russia is the nation’s dominant party. In December 2001, it was founded by merging the Unity and Fatherland-All Russia parties.
Vladimir Putin served as acting President after Boris Yeltsin resigned on December 31, 1999. From May 7, 2000 – May 7, 2008, he was President. Dmitry Medvedev succeeded him. Putin now serves as Prime Minister. He’s the United Russia 2012 presidential candidate. On March 4, presidential elections will be held.
After a decade in power, it’s common for incumbent parties to lose strength. Nonetheless, despite likely coalition agreements on some issues, United Russia remains dominant. Moreover, Putin’s heavily favored to win in 2012.
With near final Duma votes counted, results were:
United Russia – 49.67%
the Communist Party – 19.15%
Just Russia – 13.16%
the Liberal Democratic Party – 11.67%
Yabloko – 3.21%, and
two small parties getting under 1% each.
Under Russian electoral laws, Duma seats are proportionally distributed to parties getting at least 7% of the vote.
Because several didn’t qualify, United Russia maintains a ruling majority. Nonetheless, President Medvedev expressed willingness to have coalition partners, saying:
“We will have to take into account the more complex configuration of the Duma and for some issues we will have to join coalition bloc agreements.”
Ballots were cast in 94,000 domestic polling stations across Russia and about 370 overseas locations in over 140 foreign countries.
CEC officials said irregularities disqualified 1% of electoral ballots.
Major Media Bashing
On December 4, New York Times writers David Herszenhorn and Ellen Barry headlined, “Majority for Putin’s Party Narrows in Rebuke From Voters,” saying:
United Russia “suffered surprisingly steep losses in parliamentary elections on Sunday….The three minority parties….all made strong gains….”
“Critics of the government have said for weeks that they expected widespread campaign abuses, and reports of electoral violations streamed into online social networks during the early morning hours….”
On December 5, Russia Today (RT.com) reported that on election day, a Russian Internet site claimed an alleged United Russia scheme “to conduct an illegal throw-in of ballots at one of the polling stations in Moscow.”
“some obscure political specialists had gathered a group of about 40 people, described as ‘drunks and low-lifes,’ and handed them special secret pockets and packs of filled ballots, marked United Russia.”
In fact, three of the 40 were undercover reporters. When the alleged group arrived, they claimed fraud. Other reports about throw-in ballots also surfaced. A top Central Election Commission (CEC) official admitted some violations occurred.
CEC’s Leonid Ivlev mentioned “invisible ink, illegal propaganda, and the so-called ‘merry-go-round’ false voting” by specially prepared people.
However, the invisible ink scheme was uncovered and stopped. “Merry-go-round” fraud was grossly exaggerated. Minor violations only occurred. They’re common everywhere in contrast to major US electoral fraud.
Notably in 2000 and 2004, Democrats Gore and Kerry won popular and electoral college victories, but George Bush became president for eight years illegitimately.