For the first time in post-Soviet history, a majority of Russian voters decided to stay home rather than to vote in a federal election. The Central Election Commission (CEC) announced preliminary voter turnout at 48 per cent and reacted to reported irregularities, including ballot box stuffing and carousel voting. In the past six elections the average turnout was over 60 percent.
One-half of the 450 deputies were elected from single-mandate districts, with the other half elected from party candidate lists. Parties needed to poll 5 percent in order to win party-list mandates, down from 7 percent in the previous election. CEC Chairperson Ella Pamfilova said United Russia seems to win 140 State Duma seats by party ticket and another 203 in single-member constituencies. Only three other parties seem to surpass the 5 percent threshold needed to secure party representation in the legislature, all loyal to the Kremlin and its policies. They include the Communist Party with 13.45 percent, the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia with 13.24 percent, and A Just Russia with 6.17 percent.
National surveys had predicted a United Russia victory, but polls also showed high levels of apathy among voters weary or indifferent amid the economic slowdown and the perception that there are no genuine alternatives to the ruling party.
The legal framework can serve as an adequate basis for elections, but the electoral environment was negatively affected by restrictions to fundamental freedoms and political rights, firmly controlled media and a tightening grip on civil society, the international observers concluded in a preliminary statement.
“Election day was orderly overall, but the long-term observation showed that challenges to democratic commitments remain, especially with regard to the media, candidate registration and legal framework,” said Ambassador Jan Petersen, Head of the OSCE/ODIHR long-term election observation mission.
Read more at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty and OSCE
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