Exit polls so far reveal that Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party has won the DUMA (parliament) elections but with thin majorities, likely less than 50%. Voters dropped support for United Russia which has suffered even while winning the Russian parliamentary election on Sunday with voters showing discontent with the role the former president plays in dominating Russian politics.
Mr. Putin, currently the Prime Minister, plans to return to the presidency next year. As the Russian government shut down Golos, the largest independent election monitoring organization inside Russia, other groups tried to observe the process to ensure fairness in the process. Judge Svetlana K. Kalantyr ruled that Golos had violated a law that prohibits news outlets from publishing polling data during the five days before an election, and the fine was 30,000 rubles, approximately $1,000.
United Russia had hoped for a 55 to 60 percent majority but if polls are correct, the party may barely hold on to a majority in the chamber and opposition parties say that United Russia’s projected 50% outcome may also be inflated due to fraud.
Commentators also way the vote was a test of Putin’s personal authority and that Russians may have begun to grow weary of his tough image both domestically and internationally.
Meanwhile on Sunday night police were called out across the country to guard against citizen protests as the polling ended.
This was the sixth time since the collapse of the Soviet Union that Russians elected their representatives to the State Duma, the country’s lower house of parliament. Police arrested dozens of protesters in the hours after the voting.