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You're reading: Russia elections could be a watershed

Exit polls have suggested that the party could see its share of the vote drop from over 64 percent in the 2007 election to between 46 percent and 48 percent. This would see the party of power lose close to 100 seats in the State Duma, losing both a constitutional two thirds majority and also possibly its absolute majority.

The polls show that the beneficiaries of the UR’s fall from grace have been a combination of existing established opposition parties, including the Communists who seem to have garnered around 20 percent, the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Vladimir Zhirinovsky with around percent, and the centre-left Just Russia also with a 12 percent poll share. Western style liberal democratic parties remained largely frozen out, a reflection of their own failure to create a united front in this space and also institutional weaknesses, such as getting air space on the state-controlled media.

Explanations for the poor showing of UR are numerous, but include growing unease over the dominance of the ruling party and its detachment from the mass of the population. The economy is beginning to recover, and expected to grow at around 4-4.5 percent this year, but the perception still is that the benefits of growth/recovery are being too narrowly felt amongst the elite around UR.

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