NOVO OGARYOVO, September 25. /TASS/. The election to the State Duma (the lower house of Russia’s parliament) were held openly and in strict compliance with law, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday at a meeting with leaders of the political parties that have won seats in Duma.
The president pointed out that the Duma composition had been determined by the people of Russia, "who exercised their constitutional sovereign right."
"The elections were held openly, in strict compliance with the law and with a high turnout," Putin stressed.
The president stated that more than a half of the country’s voters cast their ballots.
"I would like to thank the people of Russia for coming to the polling stations or for voting at home, or, where there was such an opportunity, remotely," Putin said.
Leadership of the United Russia party
The United Russia party has demonstrated its leadership during the State Duma elections, Putin said.
Putin congratulated them and their supporters on the success, noting that "it was achieved through a tough competition with strong opponents."
"And I congratulate United Russia on the convincing victory, as it has showcased that it is still the leader," Putin said.
The meeting was attended by United Russia Chairman Dmitry Medvedev, CPRF party leader Gennady Zyuganov, LDPR party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, A Just Russia - Patriots - For Truth party leader Sergei Mironov, New People party leader Alexei Nechayev, and several party members with them, as well as Vyacheslav Volodin, the former State Duma Speaker of the United Russia party, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino, and Sergei Kiriyenko, his first deputy.
Development of democracy
The increased number of factions in the new State Duma proves the development of democracy in the country, Putin said.
Putin recalled that the Central Election Committee finalized the results of the elections on Friday.
"Four parties have confirmed their high status as parliamentary [parties], namely United Russia, the CPRF, A Just Russia - Patriots - For Truth and the LDPR. What is more, the New People party will form a separate faction, albeit a small one," he stated.
According to the president, "for the first time since the 1999 election, there will be more than four factions in the Duma."
"It also demonstrates the democratic nature of election rules and procedures, the development of democracy in our country, and that different political forces have a real chance to make themselves heard," the president said.
New voting methods
It is impossible to stop new voting methods from evolving, Putin said.
"As for elections and online voting, you know, we might as well refrain from doing that but new voting methods are unstoppable, just like technological progress," Putin noted.
According to him, the question is about ensuring the high quality of the voting process and not about voting methods. "We don't have practices like mail-in voting in the United States, where people drop off their ballots God knows where. Polling stations close at 08:00 pm but people can drop off ballots at 11:00 pm and even at five minutes to midnight," Putin noted. "Where are observers? There are no observers when people come to drop off their ballots. Who collects those ballots? Perhaps, someone buys them for a dollar," the Russian leader added.
When commenting on doubts about the results of remote electronic voting, Putin suggested considering the possibility of setting rules in the field. Doubts about online voting in Moscow did not arise because of the quality of the voting process but because some people are unhappy with the results, Putin emphasized. "As for Moscow, it's not that there are doubts about the quality of the voting process, it's just that some don't like the results. Such things do happen," the president pointed out, adding: "However, if there are any issues, let's look into them." In some countries, the voting process takes more than a week, Putin noted, adding that the decision to hold the vote over a span of three days had been made based on the coronavirus situation.
Russia held elections to the eighth State Duma on September 17-19. According to the CEC, United Russia gained 324 seats in parliament, the CPRF got 57, the A Just Russia - For Truth party received 27, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) secured 21 and New People won 13 seats. In addition, Rodina, the Party of Growth and the Civic Platform will send one MP each. The eighth State Duma will also include five independent lawmakers.