With over 40 percent of the ballots counted, the outcome of Russia’s 2016 Parliamentary elections is completely clear: President Vladimir Putin came out on top of this election, with his party of power, United Russia, looking to take an overwhelming majority in the new State Duma assembly.
Half of the 450-seat State Duma is elected through party lists. United Russia has so far claimed 52 percent of that contest. Another 225 seats in the Duma are awarded in a single-constituency system, which means a district is represented by a single winner-takes-all candidate. When the dust settles, it is estimated that United Russia could walk away with far more than 300 seats.
A Crushing Victory
According to official results, the closest contest in the 2016 election was for second place. Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), a nationalist outfit, has a very tight lead over the Communist Party for second place with 14.23 percent of the vote. The Communist Party has taken 14.19 percent. The party in fourth, A Just Russia, will enter parliament with around 6.3 percent of the vote.
LDPR, the Communist Party and A Just Russia are all known to be part of the so-called “systemic opposition,” a term denoting their official sanction by the regime.
These parties are loyal to the Kremlin on all major political issues, such as the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the subsequent armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. Combined with United Russia, these four parties will take around 445 of the Duma’s 450 seats. There is a huge doubt that there would be an independent voice to occupy at least one of the left 5 seats.
“It was not important for the Kremlin if United Russia ended up with 40, 50, or even 60 percent of the vote,” says Abbas Gallyamov, a political analyst.
But for the liberal opposition, the 2016 elections were a make-or-break moment, and the final tally was nothing short of a disaster for them. The traditional mainstream liberal party, Yabloko, failed to pass the necessary 5-percent threshold to win seats in the Duma. The other opposition party, PARNAS, led by former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, also failed to pass the mark.
PARNAS also failed to get a single deputy elected in the single-constituency districts, but in the hours after polls closed there is still hope that Yabloko can win a seat.