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Putin's 'minority' party will have to share power

05 december 2011, 11:54
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Journalists and observers work beneath a screen showing the first results from voting in Russia's parliamentray election at the Central Electoral Commission in Moscow. ©REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Journalists and observers work beneath a screen showing the first results from voting in Russia's parliamentray election at the Central Electoral Commission in Moscow. ©REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Vladimir Putin's ruling party on Monday heard a chorus of jeers from the Russian media after early results showed that United Russia was winning less than half the vote in polls marred by claims of fraud, AFP reports.

"The minority party," liberal business daily Vedomosti said acidly on its front page.

"The ruling power will have to look for partners," added Kommersant broadsheet.

United Russia won a humiliatingly low 49.79 percent of the vote, the central election commission said Monday in results based on over 90 percent of polling stations, losing the so-called "constitutional majority" it needs to change the constitution unchallenged.

The outcome marks a major reversal from the last parliamentary elections in 2007 when United Russia secured a landslide majority of 64.3 percent and won 315 seats in the lower house of parliament, the 450-seat State Duma.

Sunday's vote strengthened the position of the Communist party which came second with 19.16 percent, up from 12 percent it polled in 2007.

Its veteran leader Gennady Zyuganov said that "people have refused to give credence to the authorities" and the Kremlin would have to make room for the opposition in parliament.

"A 'red' fly in the ointment," said mass-circulation tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda which closely toes the Kremlin line, referring to the Communists' strong polling results.

The poor showing of Putin's party comes after the Russian strongman and President Dmitry Medvedev who led United Russia lists had repeatedly said they did not want to see a squabbling parliament like in the 1990s under Boris Yeltsin.

Putin warned United Russia bosses ahead of the polls not to let the opposition "bust the parliament."

The populist A Just Russia group had 13.12 percent of the vote while the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party was fourth with 11.67 percent, the results showed.

Opponents and Moscow-based Western-funded observer group Golos had said the vote was marred by unprecedented violations.

"It's highly probable that many will refuse to recognise the results of such "elections" instead of elections and will want to count votes themselves," Vedomosti said in an editorial.

Russians punished the ruling party in the polls after Putin announced in September he planned to reclaim his old Kremlin job in March presidential polls, reflecting that more and more Russians may be growing disillusioned with his 11-year rule.

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