The ruling United Russia party can still win, but it is becoming more difficult to win: Communists and other parties are becoming stronger competitors. After the election in Russia, a fifth party, the New People party, enters the Duma for the first time since 2003.
It became clear in the Duma elections that United Russia has lost confidence among voters. While the party received 54 percent of the vote in the 2016 Duma elections, it received only 49 percent in the current election.
It is not only social burdens such as price increases and an increase in the retirement age that have increased. The recurrent scandals involving politicians and top officials of the United Russia party who are involved in corruption have also contributed to the loss of confidence of United Russia.
The fact that the turnout for the three-day ballot was only 45 percent is worryingly true. In the 2016 and 2011 parliamentary elections, the figure was 47 and 60 percent, respectively. The falling turnout is an expression of a depoliticization of the population and also an expression of disappointment with government policy.
United Russia provides two-thirds of MPs
In Russia, a new Duma was elected from September 17 to 19. 14 Parties were up for election. As in Germany, elections were held via party lists and direct candidates. After counting 95 percent of the electoral protocols, the ruling party United Russia won the elections with 49 percent, followed by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) with 19 percent. The third strongest party is Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democrats with seven percent, followed by the left party "Just Russia - for the Truth" (also seven percent). With the moderate "New People" (5.4 percent), a fifth party returned to the Duma for the first time since 2003. All other parties did not pass the five percent hurdle. The Party of Pensioners got 2.4 percent. The Western - oriented party Yabloko only 1,2 percent.
According to preliminary results, United Russia gets 315 out of a total of 450 deputies. Thus, as before, the ruling party has a two-thirds majority in the Duma, which allows it to impose constitutional amendments if necessary.
According to the results of the elections so far, four small parties will be represented in the Duma, each with a direct candidate. These are the Yabloko party, the Growth Party, the Fatherland party and the Civic Platform party. Harsh criticism of the Russian government will probably only come from the direct candidate of the Yabloko party.
Western-oriented parties have become obsolete
The fact that the Yabloko party, which together with the KPRF is one of the oldest parties in post-Soviet Russia, received only 1.2 percent of the vote in the Duma elections, says a lot about the mood in Russia. In the 1990s, Yabloko was one of the parties that drove the Western-oriented transformation of the state and the economy. The party was represented in the Duma with deputies until 2003, but then failed to pass the five-percent hurdle.
Although Sergei Mitrokhin has achieved a respectable success in the Russian capital as a direct candidate with 21 percent. But the crushing defeat for Yabloko on a national scale shows that the Russians no longer value Western-oriented parties. Only parties tired of the West measuring Russia by its standards were elected in this year's elections.
No comfort for the Western media
What can the Western media console themselves with? The comfort is weak. Or is it any consolation that the KPRF did well in the Duma elections and that the left party "Just Russia – For the Truth" also asserted itself? Direct candidates of these two parties had been recommended for election by the Navalny team, which operated from abroad.
Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov made it clear at a press briefing on Sunday evening that he was whistling for support from the Navalny team. Navalny is a creature "created by Vladislav Surkov (head of the presidential administration in 2013)."Zyuganov alluded to the fact that in 2013, with the approval of the Kremlin, Navalny ran for mayor of Moscow and received 27 percent of the vote.
KPRF-successes in Siberia, head-to-head race with United Russia in Moscow
The KPRF was able to maintain its position as the second strongest party. In the poorer areas in the north, in the Siberian Irkutsk Region and the Far East, on the island of Sakhalin and in the Primorsky Territory (Vladivostok), the party achieved very good results. In the Nenetsky district of northern Russia, the KPRF won with 31 percent against the United Russia party, which received 29 percent of the vote. Also in the Yakutia region, the Communists became the strongest party. The ruling party United Russia and Just Russia promptly demanded a recount of the votes there.
In the direct candidates in Moscow, United Russia and the KPRF delivered an exciting head-to-head race. The KPRF leadership has partially questioned the election results in numerous regions and submitted a long list of electoral violations to the Central Election Commission.
Independent leftist Mikhail Lobanov, a mathematician who teaches at Moscow University and ran for the Kuntsevo district, located west of Moscow city center, on the KPRF list, announced on Monday morning at nine o'clock Moscow time that he was leading by 41,859 votes ahead of well-known television journalist Yevgeny Popov, who ran for the United Russia party and received 31,008 votes. Lobanov wrote on Facebook, " it is already clear on whose side the sympathies of the voters lie. What can compensate for this gap are just gigantic fakes via electronic voting."
Moscow was one of seven Russian regions where voting could be carried out via the Internet. According to official data, Lobanov narrowly missed the victory. 31 Percent voted for Lobanov, 34 percent for Popov.
Success for Anastasia Udaltsova
In Moscow, according to preliminary data, only one candidate of the opposition managed to win the direct candidates. The winner is Anastasia Udaltsova. She is an activist of the Left Front and ran on the list of the KPRF in the Southern Nagatinski district. Her husband – Sergei Udaltsov-was imprisoned several times for a long time for participating in street protests.
The KPRF no longer has the image of a Stalinist party. The party has opened. Many new young people and independent leftists have joined the KPRF. Even liberal Russians have called for the election of the KPRF, as it is the only party that can stand up to United Russia in parliament.
The fact that the KPRF already abandoned a revolutionary concept in the early 1990s and instead relied on consistent social policy and wealth redistribution was consistently swept under the table by major German media and politicians. The German media had dedicated itself to Boris Yeltsin. Zyuganov was considered a dangerous red revanchist and Stalinist, followed only by pensioners. But if the chairman of the KPRF, Gennady Zyuganov, praises Stalin, it is not because of political repression, but because of the victory in the Second World War.
KPRF-More combative than before
The KPRF was much more combative in these elections than in the past. The tone towards the government was rougher. The party leadership landed a highlight on the last day of the election when it began with a press briefing in the Moscow party headquarters an hour before the closing of the last polling stations in the Kaliningrad region.
The party leadership justified this de facto break in the required restraint until the end of the election by the fact that the first victory messages of the United Russia party had already been shown on the television news. On the other hand, nothing was shown on television about the election victories of the KPRF in the Russian Far East.
The press conference is held so early in order to prevent attempts at falsification in the central and western regions of Russia during the ongoing counting of votes:
"With the counterfeits, power provokes people to an orange revolution. People will only recognize honest election results."
KPRF Chairman Gennady Zyuganov rumbled about election fraud in the central Russian province"under the eyes of the police". "This is a criminal mafia," grumbled the head of the KPRF. When Zyuganov was asked by the correspondent of the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda whether a press conference – while the election is still in progress-would not endanger stability in the country, the head of the Communist Party replied, "I'm tired of being afraid."The falsification of election results is the direct way into the chaos of the 1990s.
United Russia prevails in gubernatorial elections
In parallel with the parliamentary elections, new governors were elected in nine Russian regions. Six of the newly elected governors belong to the United Russia party. In three regions, a communist (Ulyanovsk region), a non-party (Tula region), and in the Khabarovsk Region, a Liberal Democrat from Zhirinovsky's LDPR won.
In the Far Eastern Khabarovsk Region, where there were protests in the summer of 2020 over the removal of Governor Sergei Furgal (LDPR), Mikhail Degtyarov, who also belongs to the LDPR, won with 56 percent. This is the worst result in the gubernatorial election this year. Most governors got over 70 percent. But Degtyarov was deployed by the Kremlin after acting Governor Sergei Furgal was arrested in 2020 for alleged involvement in a murder in the 1990s and is now in prison. There had been demonstrations against the removal of Furgal for months. The demonstrators demanded a fair investigation of the murder charge.
The results of the parliamentary elections in the Far Eastern region show that the Khabarovsk Region remains in opposition. The KPRF won with 26 percent of the vote. The ruling party United Russia received 24 percent in the area, the LDPR 16 percent, the" New People " seven percent and Just Russia six percent.
Visit to a Moscow electoral district
At polling station No. 2884 – it was located west of Moscow city center in a workers ' center-I tried to get an idea of the voting process. The choice was made in the newly renovated sports hall of a school that still smelled of color.
The chairman of the local election commission explained to me how the ballots that were cast in the two ballots were kept during the three days of voting. "The two ballot boxes are completely emptied every evening. The ballots are all put together in a plastic bag."I was shown one of the bags with a special adhesive closure. "The plastic bag then comes into this steel cabinet". One pointed to a one and a half meter high, narrow steel cabinet, which was closed with a green seal. The sports hall was illuminated throughout the night and was guarded by the police, the chairman of the polling station said.
"Two cameras on the ceiling of the polling station record everything that happens in the polling station, not only during the day, but also at night."
The election observation organization "Golos", which is classified by the Russian authorities as a" foreign agent " because of monetary contributions from abroad, reported 4,647 violations of the election rules on Monday night. The head of the Central Election Committee, Ella Panfilova, said that there had been 12 cases of illegal entry of ballot papers into the ballot boxes in eight regions. Because of this illegal procedure, a total of 8,500 ballots were declared invalid.
The chairman of the Russian Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko admitted that there were irregularities in the election. But these were mainly "human errors". The irregularities did not have a decisive influence on the election result. The central election Commission also responded. In fact, the head of the election commission, Ella Panfilova, had dismissed several heads of election commissions in the regions from their posts, including in the Siberian coal mining area of Kuzbass.
The video cameras in all polling stations recorded not only irregularities, but also "fakes", Matviyenko claimed. Many fakes have been paid by foreign countries. The politician did not give details. But on Sunday, Russian television showed how police officers dug out a video studio where fakes were allegedly filmed with real election paraphernalia, only to then put them on the Net. Television did not show such revelations of organized electoral fraud by local authorities.
The OSCE had not sent observers to the Duma election. The OSCE wanted to send 500 observers and was upset that the Russian authorities wanted to approve only 60 observers.
Matviyenko said that since the pandemic, the OSCE has sent far fewer election observers to other states worldwide. Only 50 election observers had been sent to the United States. After all, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe sent five observers to Russia.
"We live in a puddle"
In front of polling station 2884, I got into a conversation with the pensioner Ljudmilla. She used to work in a construction company. Now she had come specially from the dacha to vote. Two hours to Moscow and two hours back again. Why she came to the election, I wanted to know. "To choose Lobanov."
"We need young people. We live in a puddle. The old politicians don't do it anymore."
So far, she has not been interested in politics. But now she watch videos on the Internet, from the left Nikolai Platoshkin (Movement for a New socialism) and Nikolai Bondarenko (KPRF Saratov) and Pavel Grudinin (KPRF presidential candidate 2018). "It's about my children and grandchildren now. For your future. I want you to be better than I am."Ljudmilla lives modestly. She gets 190 euros pension including Moscow supplement.
As we talk, a second woman arrives, she is small, slender and also of retirement age. Ljudmilla welcomes the woman. "We live in the same staircase," she explains to me later. Lyudmila asked the languid, " Who do you want to choose?"The slender moans," oh, I do not know."Lyudmila:" Choose KPRF and Lubanov!"KPRF, that's a puddle, "says the thin woman, to which Lyudmila replies," Zyuganov soon steps down and then the boys take the helm. If you choose one of the small parties, it's a lost vote. That supports the power."The neighbor moves on thoughtfully.
What do you think of Navalny, I ask Lyudmilla. The answer comes as if shot from the gun. "Very good. It reveals the luxury in which our top officials live." I ask whether she does not know that Navalny joined the nationalist Russian march in 2009 and made a racist video against migrant workers from the Caucasus. She shakes her head. She didn't know.
I ask Lyudmilla whether she is not concerned with the development in Ukraine. She dodges. She says only this much about Ukraine: the power in Russia distracts from the problems in Russia with the topic of Ukraine.
After that, I get into conversation with a bearded man of about 35 years. He says he's a physicist. Who did he choose? "Those who save the land". And which party is this? "The KPRF". He grins and has a look,as if he wanted to say, what is the question, everyone knows.
The 2884 polling station had 1,918 voters. In addition, there were 715 people who had registered for electronic voting via the Internet. Their votes are counted separately. When I visited the polling station on Sunday at 5 pm, about 400 people had voted, the chairman of the polling station tells me.
The polling station was guarded by numerous police officers inside and outside the building. But there were not – as in previous elections – tables where you could buy cheap treats. And there was no music either. Apparently, it has been recognized that the people of Moscow could regard this as election interference by power.