Victory in Duma, High Approval Rate Pave Way for Putin 4th Presidency

Putin Crushing Win in Russian Duma, Made Possible Putin 4th Presidency

Putin Crushing Win in Russian Duma, Made Possible Putin 4th Presidency
Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:45:39

Russia's ruling United Russia party has cruised to an easy victory in parliamentary polls that could pave the way for President Vladimir Putin to glide to a fourth term in 2018 elections, partial results showed.

Sunday's ballot for the 450-seat State Duma was smooth sailing for authorities desperate to avoid a repeat of mass protests last time round and eager to increase their dominance as Russia faces the longest economic crisis of Putin's rule.

"We can announce already with certainty that the party secured a good result, that it won," Putin said after polls closed."The situation is tough and difficult but the people still voted for United Russia," he said on state television.

With 90 percent of the votes counted, the United Russia party had 54.3 percent of votes, securing it at least 338 seats in the 450-member parliament, up from 238 previously, according to results announced early Monday.

It was followed by the Communists and the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party, on 13.5 percent and 13.3 percent respectively, and A Just Russia, which received 6.2 percent, results published by the election commission showed.

The vote comes as Putin's approval ratings remain high at around 80 percent and authorities appear to be banking on trouble-free presidential elections in two years.

Results indicated that liberal opposition groups would not make it into parliament, with neither the Yabloko party, nor the Parnas party, headed by former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov, having secured enough votes to win a seat.

The other half of the deputies are being elected on a constituency basis after a change to the election law.

With only a fraction of the votes counted, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev confidently said that his party would end up with an "absolute majority" in the Duma.

Though the overall tally for United Russia was higher than the 49 percent it claimed in 2011, participation was low, particularly in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

Only 47.8 of voters cast their ballots, against 60 percent in 2011, electoral officials said.

For the first time since Moscow seized the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014, residents there voted for Russia's parliament, in a poll slammed by Ukraine as illegal.

Voters in some areas of the vast country were also electing regional leaders.

In the North Caucasus region of Chechnya, strongman Ramzan Kadyrov looked set to win the first electoral test of his rule, AFP reports.