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Ruling party to have to join coalitions, agree with opposition

December 05, 2011, 18:10 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

MOSCOW, December 5 (Itar-Tass) — The Russian parliamentary elections held on Sunday have marked the transition of Russia's politics to a new stage: an end to the unchallenged monopoly of the ruling party and strengthening of the system opposition against the background of growing activity of the non-system opposition. United Russia that has lost the constitutional majority in the State Duma, although, to all appearances, it has maintained the simple majority, now will have to periodically come to terms with the opposition and join coalitions. The new Duma will become more interesting and will hardly be automatically rubber stamping laws, as earlier, however, the balance of power in the country will hardly radically change, experts believe. Anyway, nobody doubts Vladimir Putin’s victory in the 2012 presidential election that is expected in the first round.

The same four parties of the seven registered will be working in the State Duma for the next five years. It is noteworthy that parliamentary parties, except United Russia, have improved their results by several percent. The Yabloko party has not passed to the Duma, according to the election results. According to the Central Election Commission (CEC), with 96 percent of the polling stations’ protocols processed, United Russia has got 49.54 percent of the vote, which gives it 238 seats (315 earlier), the Communist Party (CPRF) - 19.16 percent (92 seats instead of 57 earlier), Just Russia – 13.22 percent (64 seats instead of 38 earlier) and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) - 11.66 percent (56 seats instead of 40). The percentage of all these parties is yet to rise by means of redistribution of votes cast for the other three parties that have failed to overcome the 7-percent election barrier - Yabloko (about 3.3 percent), Patriots of Russia (nearly one percent) and Right Cause (slightly more than 0.5 percent).

The voter turnout throughout Russia was 60.2 percent. During the previous parliamentary elections in December 2007 it was 63.78 percent.

United Russia has scored almost 15 percent less votes than in 2007 when it got more than 64 percent of the vote. So, United Russia will now have to join a coalition, which was admitted on Sunday evening by the head of its electoral list, President Dmitry Medvedev: “... Anyway, due to a more complicated configuration of the State Duma we will have to enter in coalition, bloc relations on various issues. This is the parliamentarism.”

After the election, Medvedev called the leaders of the CPRF, LDPR and Just Russia - Gennady Zyuganov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Sergei Mironov.

The country’s chief executives expressed their satisfaction with the result of United Russia, despite the significant loss of votes. President Medvedev said that the party “has performed consistently and worthily” and called it “democracy in action.” Prime Minister Vladimir Putin expressed his gratitude to the voters who allowed United Russia to remain “the leading political party in the country.” He made a reservation that the “optimal result” has been achieved despite the crisis and “the party’s special responsibility for this difficult period, for mistakes and failures.”

Russian analysts, analysing the election results, state: no matter how optimistic the United Russia party is, they would have to be content with “uncertain majority” in the newly elected State Duma, when to make major policy decisions they will have to negotiate with other factions. The ruling party, which has got used to work in a constitutional majority conditions, is facing a difficult five-year period, political scientist Alexei Makarkin believes.

In the view of one of the most prominent representatives of Russia’s media community, Chief Editor of Radio Echo Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) Alexei Venediktov, the fact that Medvedev, not Putin, headed the UR election list, did not play a big role. Voters who did not vote for United Russia voted not against Dmitry Medvedev or Vladimir Putin, he said. “They just got tired of the rigid system with a single leader.”

United Russia has significantly lost in major cities, and in many cases the victory was achieved by the use of the administrative resource, which has been unprecedented, compared with the previous campaigns, and noted that almost all election participants have admitted this. The opposition association Golos registered 1,300 violations on the election day, the most frequent of them - organised transportation of voters and the opening of polling stations at enterprises.

The association’s expert Alexander Kynev told the Kommersant daily that the vote was marked by pervasive use of “all kinds of manipulative technologies”: in general, according to the expert, the distortion rate resulting from the use of manipulation technology is from 5 percent to 20 percent. According to the anonymous experts Venediktov referred to, the falsification scale at the elections reached 10-15 percent, “and the real level of support for United Russia is 35 percent.”

United Russia also has serious claims to the opposition. It mostly concerns violating prohibition on campaigning on the election day.

Moscow is Russia’s only city, where there were so many observers, including independent ones, including from among representatives of the press. Perhaps this can explain the obvious loss of United Russia in many districts. In many districts of the city the Communist Party won almost as many votes as United Russia, and in two (Gagarinsky and Sviblovo) even outstripped it.

United Russia has secured nearly 17 percent of the vote with the support of so-called “Muslim belt” - Tatarstan, where United Russia got 80 percent of the vote, Bashkortostan - 70 percent and Dagestan - 91 percent. In Chechnya, the ruling party even got more than 99 percent of the vote.

The CPRF, LDPR and Just Russia are in the meantime discussing possible coalitions. Thus, first deputy chairman of the CPRF Central Committee Ivan Melnikov said that the Communists are ready to regard the Just Russia party and the Liberal Democratic Party as its possible allies, but not United Russia.

Just Russia for its part does not rule out a coalition with the CPRF and United Russia on certain issues, the Liberal Democratic Party is also ready for a coalition with United Russia, but only on the equal participation terms.

LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky added that he will definitely not enter into a coalition with Just Russia.

Meanwhile, non-system opposition, which in advance regarded the election results unfair, marked the election day in their own way: staging demonstrations and protest actions. Taking part in the rallies were activists of the Left Front, Other Russia, as well as nationalists. As a result, more than a hundred people were detained by police. The new unauthorised actions are planned also for Monday.

Meanwhile, analysts say the elections have not changed the real balance of power in the country. United Russia’s loss of the absolute majority in the Duma is not so dreadful for it. Political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky believes that CPRF, LDPR, and Just Russia “in situations where the Kremlin needs it will quietly play along with United Russia and would vote against UR only when nothing depends from them.”

However, experts believe that now the Duma will become more left-wing, more dynamic and pluralistic, and the real political competition will intensify. Director General of the Agency for Political and Economic Communications Dmitry Orlov, quoted by, believes that “the opposition has got more opportunities to influence the ongoing political process, political competition will intensify, but the dominance of United Russia is preserved.”

Experts believe that United Russia itself will undergo changes. New parliament members, elected from United Russia and the All-Russia Popular Front (ONF), will allow the party to become more receptive to the issues at the centre of public attention, President of the Council for Strategic Priorities Alexei Pushkov is certain.

Member of the Council for Culture and Art under the Russian President Roman Yemelyanov believes that there will be more intensive competition between the parties in the newly elected Duma, which is good: “The more intense competition the better for the ordinary citizen. I would like to expect the work.”

At the same time, nobody doubts Vladimir Putin’s victory in the coming presidential election.

The head of the association of entrepreneurs Business Russia, Boris Titov, said in an interview with Business FM radio station on Monday that no political leader at present can offer real competition to Putin. “I predict that Putin has no rivals and will win in the first round.”