Russian expats vote Yabloko; N.Caucasus, Moscow asylum for United Russia

The Liberal Yabloko party that barely made it over the three-percent threshold in parliamentary elections on Sunday beat the remaining six other parties in the expat vote, while the national favorite United Russia scored best in Chechnya and in a Moscow mental institution.

In the UK, there were 2,208 Russians, and 41 percent of them voted for Yabloko, 19.7 percent for the Communist Party, followed by the moderate A Just Russia with 15.8 percent, and the United Russia getting only 10.6 percent, according to the Central Election Commission.

Russians voted Sunday to elect the State Duma, the lower chamber of the parliament, in what is widely regarded as a test of the public trust in Prime Minister Vladimir Putin after 12 years of leading the country. Putin’s United Russia has nominated him as the presidential candidate for the March 2012 vote.

At the largest polling station in France, 1,620 Russians cast their votes. A total of 31.5 percent voted for Yabloko, 21.7 percent voted for the Communists, 17.3 percent for A Just Russia, and 16.7 percent for United Russia.

Yabloko also won in the United States, where some 1,000 people voted. It gained 26.6 percent of the vote, closely followed by United Russia with 25.4 percent. The Communists got 20.2 percent.

Alexei Makarkin, deputy director of the Center for Political Technologies, believes that Russian expats voted for Yabloko because they are “liberal voters.”

“They left Russia, they are more active, more dynamic, and more tuned in the opposition, they left Russia because many of them believe that they cannot realize their potential in Russia,” Makarkin said. “If they really went to the polls, they are tuned for maximum rapprochement between Russia and the West and in this matter, Yabloko is a perfect party for them.”

In Russia, with the votes from about 95 percent of polling stations counted as of Monday noon, the ruling United Russia party was slightly below the 50-percent mark with 49.67 percent, a far cry from the commanding two-thirds constitutional majority the party has held in the State Duma for the past four years, according to the official count.

Other parties which crossed the entry barrier will receive more seats than in 2007.

Yabloko party garnered just 3.22 percent, which is less than required to get at least one seat (5 percent), so it will have no representation in the lower house of parliament.

The turnout in the State Duma elections in the North Caucasus Republic of Chechnya hit 99.51 percent, of which 99.48 percent of the votes were cast for the ruling United Russia party, the head of the local election commission said on Sunday.

United Russia showed no less spectacular success in Dagestan and Karachaevo-Cherkessia with 91.4 percent and 90.8 percent, respectively

“Regions compete with each other over the question of who will lead more of its regional deputies into the State Duma, and this issue is solved predominantly using the absolute number of votes,” Alexei Titkov, a senior expert at the Institute Regional Policy said. “If more people came to the polls in their own republic and voted for United Russia, it means that they increase the chance of bringing their republic’s deputy [to the Duma], in comparison with the neighboring region where, for example, the population is the same, but less people came to the elections and gave fewer votes for the ruling party,” Titkov added.

The results from the ballot box “stuffed” by patients at Moscow Mental Hospital No. 3 fall between the Chechen and Dagestani numbers: 93.1 percent. That is, 353 patients voted for United Russia.

Not a single ballot was cast for the Communists or Yabloko at the mental institution.

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