Putin’s Party Takes a Hit at the Polls
Could martial arts enthusiast, tiger wrangler and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin be losing his steely grip on power in his homeland? Could be, judging by the results of Sunday’s parliamentary election in Russia, which resulted in a shaky showing for Putin’s United Russia party and sparked protests and accusations of voting fraud. Other than that, it was a great day for Putin and his party people. –KA
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AP via Yahoo!:
With about 96 percent of precincts counted, United Russia was leading with 49.5 percent of the vote, Central Election Commission chief Vladimir Churov said. He predicted that it will get 238 of the Duma’s 450 seats, a sharp drop compared to the previous vote that landed the party a two-thirds majority in the State Duma, allowing it to change the constitution.
Final preliminary results were to be announced on Monday morning, but the count dragged on for longer than expected. Some opposition politicians alleged that election officials may manipulate the vote count to make sure that United Russia gets over 50 percent mark. Mikhail Kasyanov, a former prime minister who is now in opposition, said that Putin badly needs the figure to avoid looking weak.
The monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly wouldn’t say if the irregularities could be at the scale to question if United Russia has an unearned majority. But Tagliavini said that of the 150 polling stations where the counting was observed, “34 were assessed to be very bad.”
Putin tried to put a positive spin on the returns, saying late Sunday that “we can ensure the stable development of the country with this result.” But he appeared glum when speaking to supporters at United Russia headquarters and limited his remarks to a terse statement.
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