Exit polls suggest United Russia victory with 50%

A tense night is ahead for participants in Russia’s parliamentary elections as vote counting gets underway. According to exit polls, the United Russia party, chaired by PM Vladimir Putin, is leading with 50% of the vote.

According to a poll by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM), the Communist Party (KPRF) is second with 19% of the votes, followed by Fair Russia with around 13%, and the LDPR with a little under 12%.

Liberal party Yabloko, the Right Cause and Patriots of Russia are unlikely to cross the required 7 % threshold and make it into the State Duma.

The official results are yet to be announced and they might be different from those provided by the exit polls.

However, support for United Russia seems to have declined for the first time since it was created in 2001. The main intrigue now is whether United Russia will manage to get enough votes to retain its constitutional majority – which requires at least 300 seats – in the lower house.

The leader of the party, Vladimir Putin, who cast his ballot early in the afternoon, was asked at the polling station what he expected from the elections.“A good result for United Russia,” he told journalists.

All in all, seven registered political parties have been taking part in the elections on December 4. The front-runners, United Russia, the Liberal Democrats (LDPR), the Communists and Fair Russia, had representatives in the Duma of the fifth convocation, which held its last session on November 23. Yabloko, the Right Cause, and the Patriots of Russia are only hoping to get seats in the 450-seat parliament.

Voter turnout varied depending on the region, with the North Caucasus traditionally being rather active, with citizens of Central Russia, including Moscow and St Petersburg, having less enthusiasm for casting their ballots. The overall voter turnout will later be announced by the Central Election Commission.

United Russia’s lead comes as no surprise to anyone. Nevertheless, the once mighty political force has lost points compared to 2007’s Duma elections when it scored a landslide victory with over 64% of the vote and got 315 seats in the parliament. Recently it has often been subject to criticism for its inability to curb corruption or to narrow the huge gap between the country’s rich and poor, and for political and economic stagnation.

However, United Russia has hit back saying that it is a party of action and that its course has proven to be good for the country. President Dmitry Medvedev, who tops the United Russia list for the election, noted earlier last week that changes in Russia are obvious. He admitted though that there are still many problems and that much has to be done.

“We are not ashamed going into the elections,” Medvedev pointed out speaking at his and Putin’s meeting with supporters.

Last month the president stressed that United Russia is “an efficient party which has taken responsibility both for the economy and social care system, and for the safety of our citizens, and for our wellbeing.”

“We never promise the impossible, but we always do what is possible. We’ve had successes and we’ve had decisions that have not been implemented to the full. Of course, we’ve made mistakes and we deserve criticism for them. But it’s only those who do nothing that make no mistakes. We are a party of action and, whatever some say, we have done quite a lot. It’s a fact you cannot deny, and that’s what makes us so strong,” he said.

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