Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s party struggled to hang onto its majority in Russia’s parliamentary election, results showed on Monday.
Rival parties and election monitors said even a result of around 50 per cent was inflated, alleging ballot-stuffing and other significant violations at the polls. Many expressed fears that the vote count would be manipulated.
The United Russia party held a two-thirds majority in the outgoing State Duma, which allowed it to change the constitution unchallenged. But the party is increasingly disliked, seen as representing a corrupt bureaucracy.
The Communist Party appeared to benefit from the protest vote, with exit polls and the early returns predicting it would get nearly 20 per cent, up from less than 12 per cent four years ago.
But Mr. Putin should still have no serious difficulties getting his laws passed. The two other parties in parliament also looked set to gain seats, and both have consistently voted with United Russia. Even the Communists pose only tempered opposition.
The results with over 92 per cent of the precincts counted showed 49.8 per cent for United Russia. This was in line with an exit poll conducted by the VTsIOM polling agency that had United Russia tallying 48.5 per cent and another done by the FOM polling agency that had it winning 46 per cent of the vote. The two polls were reported by the two state television channels.