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Putin’s Party Is Preparing for a Post-Majority Future

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22.09.2021

Russia’s elections are often dismissed as merely a symbolic ritual conferring a veneer of democratic legitimacy on the Kremlin’s authoritarian leadership. But despite limitations on political freedoms, democratic politics are still at the basis of governance in the Russian Federation. The recent elections, which have effectively concluded, although the final results won’t be certified until Sept. 24, are a good example of this.

The State Duma, which serves as Russia’s elected parliament and since a referendum in July 2020 has been invested with significantly expanded powers, was the main story of the recent elections. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ruling party, United Russia, is reported to have won a total of 324 seats, with the opposition taking the remaining 126, split among various parties but with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) taking the lion’s share at 57 seats, and A Just Russia and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia—an incongruously named far-right group—likely taking 27 and 21.

The vote for the Duma is twofold: 225 deputies are elected in a party list vote using proportional representation with a 5 percent threshold, and 225 are elected in single-member constituencies with a first-past-the-post vote. Parties need to score a minimum of 5 percent of the popular vote to enter the Duma. United Russia took 49.82 percent of the vote for 126 seats on the party list and won a plurality in 198 constituencies. The various opposition parties only managed to collect a total of 27 seats among them through the single-member constituencies, led by the CPRF at nine seats and A Just Russia at eight seats. The spread between United Russia’s take and that of the opposition in these single-member constituencies is dramatic—and the sole source of the ruling party’s legislative dominance.

Russia’s elections are often dismissed as merely a symbolic ritual conferring a veneer of democratic legitimacy on the Kremlin’s authoritarian leadership. But despite limitations on political freedoms, democratic politics are still at the basis of governance in the Russian Federation. The recent elections, which have effectively concluded, although the final results won’t be certified until Sept. 24, are a good example of this.

The State Duma, which serves as Russia’s elected parliament and since a referendum in July 2020 has been invested with significantly expanded powers, was the main story of the recent elections. Russian........

© Foreign Policy


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