November 26, 2011 in Nation/World

Putin party’s majority shrinks

Lynn Berry Associated Press
 

MOSCOW – A poll released Friday predicts that Vladimir Putin’s party will receive 53 percent of the vote in Russia’s parliamentary election, now a little over a week away.

While still a majority, this would be a significant drop for United Russia and deprive it of the two-thirds majority that has allowed it to amend the constitution without seeking the support of the three other parties in parliament.

United Russia dominates political life in Russia and has received more favorable coverage during the campaign, but it is increasingly disliked by those who see it as representing the interests of a corrupt bureaucracy.

The new poll by the independent Levada Center put the Communists in second place with 20 percent, a boost that suggests they may benefit from the protest vote on Dec. 4.

But many Russians have become disillusioned with the electoral process. Only parties that have the Kremlin’s approval are allowed to field candidates, and past elections have drawn strong accusations of vote rigging.

Nearly half of those surveyed said they expected the vote count to be manipulated.

Putin, now prime minister after eight years as president, plans to run for a third term in March, an election he is considered certain to win.

In 2007, United Russia won more than 64 percent of the vote and was awarded 315 of the 450 seats in the State Duma, parliament’s elected lower house.

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