Despite a dip in popularity, President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party appears to be on track to preserve its legislative majority in the country’s parliamentary election.
The ruling party was expected to win by a large margin, according to exit polls.
Putin’s most outspoken critics were prohibited from competing in the election, and several accusations of ballot stuffing and coerced voting have surfaced.
The accusations were dismissed by the electoral commission.
According to the commission’s first findings, United Russia had over 48 percent of the vote with 64 percent of the ballots counted, followed by the Communist Party with around 21 percent.
On Sunday evening, a few hours after the votes closed, United Russia declared victory.
A top United Russia leader, Andrei Turchak, was shown on state television thanking a gathering of supporters in Moscow on what he characterized as a “clean and honest win.”
Despite maintaining a comfortable majority in parliament, Mr Putin’s party lost approximately one-fifth of its support, according to the preliminary findings. The party received 54 percent of the vote in 2016.
The Communist Party’s popularity increased by 8%.
Concerns over living standards, as well as charges of corruption leveled by imprisoned Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny, have harmed support for Mr Putin’s party.
Many Russians, on the other hand, applaud him with standing up to the West and reviving national pride.
A Deeper Analysis
The marathon election in Russia has come to a close. But it didn’t appear to be a fair election even before the first ballots were cast.
Many opposition lawmakers and activists were denied the right to vote. First and foremost, followers of Alexei Navalny, the imprisoned opposition leader.
The official reason for the three-day voting period was the coronavirus epidemic. However, opponents claim that the prolonged poll lacks transparency and is vulnerable to manipulation.
There have been reports of vote irregularities all throughout Russia.
The electoral commission’s head, on the other hand, claimed that the criticism was part of a “planned, intentional effort, well-financed from overseas.” It’s a foreshadowing of what’s to come. Any international criticism of the election will be met with a finger pointing at the West, with Moscow alleging it’s all part of a foreign plot to undermine Russia.
What The Future Holds
Several cities implemented electronic voting during the election.
Due to Russian authorities’ restrictions, election monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) were not present for the first time since 1993.
As of Sunday evening, the independent vote monitoring group Golos – which the Russian government has labeled a “foreign agency” – said it had recorded over 4,500 allegations of voting irregularities.
Meanwhile, Russia’s interior ministry informed reporters that no “serious breaches” had been reported.
Long lines were visible outside several voting locations in footage shared on social media throughout the election.
According to the Interfax news agency, this was notably true outside of police stations. The Kremlin’s spokesperson dismissed accusations that it was a sign that people were being pressured to vote.
Golos, on the other hand, said it had received “many communications” from people who claimed their employers were forcing them to vote, as well as claims of election fraud.
Residents with Russian citizenship were permitted to vote in regions of east Ukraine held by Russian-backed rebels, with some crossing the border to vote at Russian polling booths.
There was also outrage when a Smart Voting software created by imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was banned from the Apple and Google stores on the day Russians went to the polls.
The two businesses had been threatened with large fines by Russian authorities if they refused to remove the app, which advised users who might topple ruling party politicians.
Leonid Volkov, a Navalny friend, accused the tech companies of “caving in to the Kremlin’s extortion.”
One Moscow retiree, identified only as Anatoly, told the Reuters news agency that he voted for the governing party because he admired Mr Putin’s attempts to restore Russia’s global prominence.
“Countries like the United States and the United Kingdom regard us now more or less in the same way they respected the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s… The Anglo-Saxons only comprehend the language of power,” he added.
However, there was also a lot of apathy.
“I don’t understand the point of voting,” one Moscow hairdresser, identified only as Irina, said. “Anyway, it’s all been determined for us.”