Date: 22 September 2021

Unsurprising State Duma “Elections” in Russia

The three-day State Duma vote was nothing but a meaningless ritual as its results are consistent with the Kremlin’s earlier objectives. Russia’s United Party won a strong majority in a parliamentary vote while making up for a slight loss of seats in the lower house of the parliament by a new systemic opposition faction in the State Duma seated by parties loyal to the Kremlin.

SOURCE: DUMA.GOV.RU

Russia’s ruling party got 324 of the 450 seats in the national parliament election, losing 19 seats compared to the 2016 vote. It is just 19 if to consider that the ruling party could enjoy support that is possibly half as much as the result in the recent rigged vote. The Communist Party came second, winning 57 seats, or fifteen more than before. The third place looks somewhat noteworthy as Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party is no longer Russia’s number three political force, pushed by A Just Russia, so far the country’s number four. The latter party secured 27 seats in the State Duma compared to 23 in the past while the national-populist option got 21 seats, down from 39. A newcomer party, New People, gained 13 seats; the liberal center-right party was founded by businesspeople. But it is a Kremlin project. The regime somewhat sought to equalize the balance of power in the State Duma, where the systemic opposition had rather left-wing agendas (Communist Party, A Just Russia). The aim was also to steal voters of parties like Yabloko or Navalny-associated movements. In addition to these five that passed the 5 percent electoral threshold needed to gain Duma seats, some independent or other party candidates became new lawmakers. The September 17–19 vote could be successful for the regime. It could push the real opposition away from the vote, curb access to information on the vote, and frauds while mass-scale forgeries took place, possibly distorting the final result by as much as 50 percent. Never before in post-Soviet Russia have there been such rigged elections. This is yet another effort to transform Putin’s populist and authoritarian Russia––and its democratic remnants––into a typical dictatorship.

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