memri
September 19, 2016 Special Dispatch No. 6618

September 18 Duma Elections - The Results

September 19, 2016
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 6618

The results of the Duma elections were no surprise. The ruling party, United Russia (UR), led the polls, followed by the Russian Communist Party (CPRF), the right wing Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and Fair Russia. UR received a constitutional majority, winning 343 mandates (140 seats in the federal district and another 203 in single-member constituencies) in the 450-member Duma (76.22% of seats), the CPRF won 42 mandates (9.34%), the LDPR 39 mandates (8.67%) and Just Russia 23 mandates (5.11%). Rodina, Civic Platform (Grazhdanskaya Platforma), and independent candidate Vladislav Reznik gained one seat each.[1] The electoral system used in the present elections is mixed: Half of the Duma members (225) are elected by proportional representation from party lists with a 5% electoral threshold, and the other half are elected in a first-past-the-post system.

In the 2011 Duma elections, where the threshold was 7%, UR received 238 mandates, the CPRF won 92 mandates, Just Russia 64 mandates, and the LDPR 56 mandates. The results of the 2016 elections show that UR, with a 54.23% victory, managed to win over 100 seats more than in 2011, while the CPRF lost around 50 seats. The big surprise was the LDPR, which managed to catch up with the CPRF. The big loser is the democratic opposition. Yabloko (The Russian United Democratic Party), which won 6.58% in 2011, received only 1.9% of the vote, whereas Parnas (The People's Freedom Party) received less than one percent. In Moscow's central district, Parnas candidate Andrei Zubov and Open Russia candidate Maria Baronova lost to United Russia candidate Nikolai Gonchar.[2]

© RT

Results of the 2016 Duma elections. (Source: Rt.com, September 19, 2016)


Results of the 2011 Duma elections. (Euronews.com)

Low Voter Turnout

Overall voter turnout was 47.9%, meaning that the results of this election represent the will of less than half of eligible voters. Opposition media outlet Meduza.io reported: "According to preliminary data, turnout in Moscow, the Moscow Region, and St. Petersburg was also at a record low. As of 6 PM on Sunday, only 28.62% of Moscow's voters had cast their vote (a striking contrast with the 50.1% that had voted by 6 PM the day of the 2011 elections). In the Moscow region, this figure stood at 21.73% (as opposed to 44% in 2011) and 17% in St. Petersburg (as opposed to 38.65% in 2011). The maximum turnout in Sunday's elections was seen in the Kemerovo region, where 78.96% of the population had voted by 5 PM, in the Tyumen region, where 74.3% of the population had voted by 5 PM, and in Chechnya, where 72.16% of the population had voted by 5 PM."[3]

Before the elections, political expert Dmitri Oreshkin argued that while the elections have predetermined results, they represent "internal vibration" in Russia's authorities. He explained that if United Russia receives more than 40% of the vote, the system of power will preserve its shape, but if it receives less than 35%, the policy vector will change, leading to the reshaping of the government, including the resignation of Russian Prime Minister and UR Chairman Dmitri Medvedev. Thus, he suggested that the opposition should indeed go out to vote and not boycott the elections, since low voter turnout plays in favor of the ruling party.[4]

Commenting on the low turnout, CPRF leader Gennady Zuganov said: "Two thirds of the country did not come to vote - that's a disturbing sign." Just Russia party leader Sergey Mironov said that the low turnout is explained by the Russian voter distrust regarding a fair outcome of the elections and a fair tally of the ballots.[5]

On the other hand, Kremlin spokesperson Dimitri Peskov stated that the turnout was higher than the European average, stating: "Of course, a higher turnout would be welcomed, but there is no need to downplay the importance of the [turnout] numbers we are having at the moment. It cannot be called low. You know that in a majority of the European states, the turnout is much lower and it reflects the reality and the proportion of politically active population, which traditionally participates in the election process."[6]

Doubts Regarding The Credibility Of The Election Outcome

UR has been accused of electoral irregularities including adding additional bailouts, and double and triple voting. Central Election Commission Chairperson Ella Pamphilova dismissed most of the claims, stating that the elections were legitimate and the number of violations was significantly lower than in the past. However, she added that if solid evidence is presented, she might cancel results in various districts.[7] Commenting on the violations, Kremlin spokesperson Peskov said: "CEC chair Ella Pamfilova said that the measures in response to all the violations would be taken. There is a certain procedure of an appeal and filing complaints to the CEC, and there is no doubt that the measures will be taken to respond to the allegations [of violations]."[8] However, CPRF leader Gennady Zuganov already stated that his party will conduct an independent vote count.[9]

The GOLOS Association, a Russian organization established in 2000 to protect electoral rights, wrote on its website that although there are less violations than there were in 2011, the breaches are still significant and include: Illegal voting, illegal agitation, and use of administrative resources. In Moscow, violations were reported in at least 70 polling stations.[10]

United Russia's Constitutional Majority

One of the main debates after the publication of the election results is the fact that UR obtained a constitutional majority, which allows it to adopt amendments to several chapters of the Constitution and to overcome a presidential veto on its own.[11] Aleksandr Kynev, an expert on the Committee of Civic Initiatives, said that the Kremlin did not aim to win a constitutional majority, since it narrows the political maneuvers for the ruling party. Kynev explained that while in the past UR made unpopular decisions under the pretext that it needed to make concessions to the parliamentary opposition and thus should not be held responsible for those decisions, it no longer has any excuse, and will bear full responsibility for unpopular decisions.[12]

Putin On Election Results: "[Life] is Hard... And People Are Still Voting For United Russia"


Russian President Vladimir Putin casts ballot at polling station No. 2151 at the Russian Academy of Sciences. (Kremlin.ru, September 18, 2016)

After the polls closed, Putin declared that the results of the State Duma elections show that the Russian voters seek political stability. "The situation is not easy, and people want both social and political stability. People want to feel that the situation in their country in the political sphere, in the parliamentary sphere is reliable," Putin said at the United Russia headquarters. Commenting on UR's victory, he added: "[Life] is hard and not easy, and people are still voting for United Russia."[13]


After the polling stations closed, Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited the election campaign headquarters of the United Russia party. The UR party candidates who took part in the election in Moscow and the Moscow Region, along with volunteers and UR party activists took part in the meeting (Kremlin.ru, September 18, 2016)

Peskov said that UR's victory is a vote of confidence for Putin, stating: "It is clear that the vast majority of the voters cast their votes to de facto support the president. Once again, the president received such an impressive vote of confidence from the people of the country." This result might push Putin to disclose whether he will run for another term in the 2018 Presidential elections.

Meanwhile, there is a possibility that the presidential elections might be moved up to 2017. According to the Russian daily Kommersant, the Ministry of Finance has included in its 2017 budget plan funds for a 2017 presidential elections campaign (230 million According to various data) by the end of 2017 and that in 2018, Russia will exceed its Reserve Fund and Welfare Fund. Thus, holding elections in 2018, given the probable fierce economic situation, may prove to be problematic.[14] Before the elections, Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky said that if the economy does not improve, Putin may decide to move the elections up, with the goal of "containing" the desire for change.[15] It is worth noting that despite the fact that Yabloko received only 1.9% of the vote, Yavlinsky declared that he will run in the presidential elections. Yavlinsky said: "We think that our party will actively participate in what's called 'presidential elections.' Possibly, it will be my candidacy. At least, as for today, I am the candidate for the presidency from the Yabloko party. This is my responsibility now."[16]

There are two odd anecdotes worth noting regarding the election campaign: On September 12, the Russian police detained political activists outside the State Duma for "unlawful demonstration". The activists were reading the Russian Constitution out loud.[17]

Additionally, during the Moscow B-Day celebrations at the Red Square on September 10, Putin posed for selfies with a group of brides.[18] As it turned out later, the "brides" were professional models, as reported by Moskovskii Komsomolets newspaper.[19]

(Source: Mk.ru, September 14, 2016)

 

Endnotes:

[1] Tass.com, September 19, 2016; Inferfax.com, September 19, 2016.

[2] Meduza.io, September 19, 2016.

[3] Meduza.io, September 19, 2016.

[4] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6614 September 18 Duma Elections Update - A Step Towards The 2018 Presidential Elections, September 16, 2016.

[5] Ria.ru, September 19, 2016.

[6] Sputniknews.com, September 19, 2016.

[7] Kommersant.ru, September 18, 2016; Sputniknews.com, September 19, 2016.

[8] Sputniknews.com, September 19, 2016.

[9] Ria.ru, September 19, 2016.

[10] Golosinfo.org, September 19, 2016.

[11] News-original.ru, September 19, 2016.

[12] Kommersant.ru, September 19, 2016.

[13] Ria.ru, September 19, 2016.

[14] Kommersant.ru, September 13, 2016.

[15] Ansa.it, Settembre 7, 2016.

[16] Kommersant.ru, September 19, 2016.

[17] Ovdinfo.org, September 12, 2016.

[18] Youtube.com/watch?v=PT0j54JoKeM.

[19] Mk.ru, September 14, 2016.

Share this Report:

HELP BRIDGE THE LANGUAGE GAP – DONATE TO MEMRI’S 2020 SUMMER CAMPAIGN