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Instant View: Exit polls show Putin's party suffers big decline

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Dec. 4, 2011, 11:17 p.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Reuters

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MOSCOW, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Two exit polls showed that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's ruling party suffered a big decline in support in a parliamentary election on Sunday, winning less than half of votes cast.

Following are reactions to the exit polls: VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRIME MINISTER

"Despite all the difficulties and responsibility placed on the (United Russia) party's shoulders, our voters, our citizens have preserved it as the leading political party.

"This is an optimal result which reflects the real situation in the country... Based on this result we can guarantee stable development of our country."

DMITRY MEDVEDEV, PRESIDENT, HEAD OF UNITED RUSSIA PARTY LIST

"We need to get a functional Duma which will not be swamped with controversies  for that we need a powerful, strong United Russia faction and we need to have friendly relations with our partners in the State Duma."

"In any case, taken the more complicated configuration of the Duma, we will have to enter in to coalitions and agreements (with other parties) on certain issues. This is normal, this is what parliamentarianism and democracy are about."

BORIS GRYZLOV, HEAD OF THE RULING COUNCIL OF UNITED RUSSIA

"We are watching and hope that we shall get a majority of the mandates in the Duma."

"We received support from the electorate... We can say that United Russia remains the ruling party."

"I congratulate you all and thank the electorate again."

GENNADY ZYUGANOV, COMMUNIST PARTY LEADER

"Despite their efforts to break public opinion, the country has refused to support United Russia."

"The country has never seen such a dirty election, even during the depth of the collapse under President Boris Yeltsin."

SERGEI OBUKHOV, COMMUNIST LAWMAKER

"Russia has a new political reality even if they rewrite everything."

VLADIMIR RYZHKOV, LIBERAL OPPOSITION LEADER

"I think the real percentage of votes United Russia received was from 35 to 45 percent.

"These elections are unprecedented because were carried out against the background of a collapse in trust in Putin, Medvedev and the ruling party. This is the most important political circumstance. I think that the March (presidential) election will turn into an even bigger political crisis, disappointment, frustration, with even more dirt and disenchantment, and an even bigger protest vote."

ANDREI PIONTKOVSKY, POLITICAL ANALYST

"It's the beginning of the end.

"It shows a loss of prestige for the party and the country's leaders. They are more despised mow than respected.

"People are fed up."

SERGEI BELANOVSKY, POLITICAL ANALYST

"I think there is a trend of the authorities' legitimacy falling, primarily Putin's.

"Although the people are not inclined to aggressive and violent behaviour, can the "new old" authorities run the country with a slump in ratings and not being ready to shoot? I do not know if it is possible to run a country where everyone hates you."

DMITRY ORESHKIN, INDEPENDENT POLITICAL ANALYST

"No one expected such a sharp downfall for United Russia. A separate analysis in cities and towns shows that United Russia fell even further in cities -- where it has between 30-35 percent of the votes and the Communists have 20-25 percent of the vote.

"This is a bad climate for Putin. He has got used to the fact that he controls everything, but now how can he go into a presidential campaign when United Russia has embittered people against their leader? The fact that they bullied voters, the fact that they barred election monitors, it means they did battle with the people. People understand this and will remember it. So Putin has a problem.

"Putin has stopped being a magic wand. Putin evokes growing protest."

ALEKSEI MAKARKIN, CENTER FOR POLITICAL TECHNOLOGIES

"The departure of the middle class (from the ruling party) has been key throughout this campaign. Medvedev was able to interest them initially. These people were counting on his second term  to begin a time of political modernisation."

GENNADY GUDKOV, CANDIDATE FOR "JUST RUSSIA"

"[This is the] hysteria and agony of power. We need to clearly understand that today's ruling party is no longer the party of the majority."

"If in 2007 there were mass violations, we understood nevertheless that this was the party of the majority. Today this majority did not support them."

"In his place (President Dmitry Medvedev) I would have refused (to be prime minister)."

SERGEI ALEKSASHENKO, DIRECTOR OF MACROECONOMIC RESEARCH, HIGHER SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS

"The main result of these elections will be a significant fall in votes for United Russia. In other words, United Russia has passed its peak and is now starting a downward slide."

CHARLES ROBERTSON, HEAD OF MACRO RESEARCH, RENAISSANCE CAPITAL

"Overall - this does add a small layer of political uncertainty. But it's not clear that any candidate except for Putin could seriously expect to win the presidency on 4th March. The question will be how can he respond to the decline in enthusiasm for United Russia?" (Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova, Jennifer Rankin, Alexei Anishchuk and Gleb Bryanski, Editing by Timothy Heritage)
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