Russian parliamentary elections to conclude today; Putin projected to win
- On the first day of the Russian parliamentary elections on September 16, long lines were seen outside polling stations in the country, with independent media outlets deducing that the queues were indicative of state-run companies forcing employees to vote.
The three-day parliamentary elections in Russia, which began on September 17, will conclude on Sunday with President Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Party expected to win the polls marred by claims of widespread violations and suppression of opposition voices. However, some poll experts have said that Putin’s party will fall short of retaining its current two-third domination of the state Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament.
The Communist Party of Russia is expected to gain from the loss Putin’s party may see in this election. The loss of a two-thirds majority in the State Duma assumes significance because the Russian constitution can only be changed by a party with a two-thirds majority in the parliament.
The Communist Party is projected to benefit from the now-banned Smart Voting App promoted by incarcerated Putin critic Alexei Navalny. Tech giants Google and Apple took down the app from their respective stores after Russian authorities warned that failure to do so will be seen as an attempt to interfere with the country’s electoral process. Navalny used the Smart Voting App to inform voters on the strongest candidates who were in a position to defeat candidates fielded by Putin’s party, thereby undermining their vote share.
Both independent media and election monitoring agencies like Golos have reported violations like vote-buying and lack of proper measures for guarding ballots at polling stations. Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov told reporters on the second day of polling that the Russian police and the national election commission must respond to claims of ballot stuffing incidents in many regions.
Central elections commission head Ella Pamfilova accepted Zyuganov’s claims and stated that 6,200 ballots have been annulled in five regions for ballot stuffing and other procedural violations.
Navalny, Putin’s most vocal critic, who has been incarcerated in a Russian penal colony, and his organisation have been declared as “extremists” by the Putin administration and thus all of its candidates have been banned from contesting elections, thereby decimating one of the strongest opposition forces Putin has faced in recent history. Navalny’s efforts and the vacuum created by the banning of his organisation is expected to benefit the Communist Party.
On the first day of the elections on September 16, long lines were seen outside polling stations in the country, with independent media outlets deducing that the queues were indicative of state-run companies forcing employees to vote. Voters who talked to journalists present at voting venues showed little to no interest in the country’s electoral process. Journalists also witnessed incidents of ballot stuffing and other poll violations in different provinces, reported the Associated Press.