Putin party wins huge majority in parliament
President Vladimir Putin sees the governing party's huge gain in parliamentary elections as a vote of confidence in his government, despite a low voter turnout which suggests broad public apathy and dismay with the political process.
United Russia, the main party supporting Putin, expanded its grip on parliament, winning three-quarters of the seats, the Central Elections Commission (CEC) said yesterday.
"The results of the vote reflect our citizens' reaction to attempts of foreign pressure on Russia, to sanctions, to attempts to destabilise the situation in our country from within," Putin said.
He pledged to continue a foreign policy "devoid of any signs of aggressiveness, but with unconditional observance of our national interests and securing the nation's defence capability."
Russia-Western ties have remained badly strained over the Ukrainian crisis, with the United States and the European Union slapping Moscow with sanctions over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and support for the pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine.
With 93 per cent of the ballots from Sunday's vote counted, the United Russia party was on track to get 343 of the 450 seats in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, CEC head Ella Pamfilova said. She said she expected no significant change in the results when the final count is to be announced Friday.
Turnout, however, was distinctly lower than in the last Duma election in 2011 - less than 48 per cent nationwide compared with 60 per cent. In Moscow, just 35 per cent of those eligible cast ballots.
The immense gain of more than 100 seats for United Russia, which held a majority in the previous parliament, raises it above the two-thirds majority required to amend the constitution on its own.
United Russia's gains came at the expense of three other parties that had largely complied with the Kremlin's wishes. The Communists will have 42 seats in the new Duma, a sharp drop from 92, the nationalist Liberal Democrats, 39, and A Just Russia, 23.