(PresidentialWire.com)- Following elections that excluded most opposition candidates, Russia’s ruling party has maintained its supermajority in the parliament – further strengthening President Vladimir Putin’s hold on power.
According to the Central Election Commission, Putin’s United Russia party received 49.8 percent of the vote for the 225 seats allotted to political parties.
Additionally, among the other 225 members of parliament who are elected directly by voters, United Russia candidates led in 198 of them.
Despite maintaining a supermajority, United Russia did lose some support compared to 2016 when it won 54 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, the Communist Party increased its share from 13 percent in 2016 to 19 percent in this election.
Even with this increase in support the Communist Party has leveled accusations of voter fraud and irregularities, including ballot stuffing and obstruction of impartial vote observation. Sounds like Putin is taking cues from US Democrats.
On Monday evening, the Communist Party staged a protest against the election results that drew several hundred people.
However, Central Election Commission chief Ella Pamfilova denied the allegations of fraud, saying that this year there were far fewer breaches than in previous years. In total only 25,830 ballots were rejected across 35 zones.
But even with the claims of fraud, the United Russia Party sweep was widely expected – in large part because only a few opposition candidates were permitted to run this year thanks to Putin’s massive crackdown on Kremlin critics. As part of that crackdown, organizations linked to jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny were designated as radical. This radical designation prohibited anyone associated with these organizations from running for office.
Navalny is serving a two-and-a-half year sentence for violating parole for an earlier conviction that he maintains was politically motivated. Prior to this weekend’s elections, a number of other notable opposition politicians were either prosecuted or forced to flee the country due to government pressure.
Allegations of fraud and irregularities in Russia’s parliamentary elections are not new. Claims of widespread fraud during the 2011 elections sparked months of anti-government and anti-Putin riots.