SETBACK! Putin returns to power with slashed majority
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin suffered a bad dent in his carefully groomed image as his ruling United Russia party returned to power with a sharply slashed majority, winning just 238 seats in the 450-strong sixth State Duma, the country's lower house of Parliament.
The man, who has tightened his grip on the nations for nearly 12 years, faced a humiliating setback with the preliminary results after the counting of 96 per cent votes showing his party garnering just over 50 per cent of the votes.
Chairman of the Central Election Commission Vladimir Churov predicted that Putin's party would get 238 out of the Duma's 450 seats, a far cry compared to his previous vote where he swept to a two-thirds majority in the lower house.
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Image: Russian PM Putin gestures as President Medvedev looks on during a news conference after voting closed in parliamentary elections in Moscow on Sunday
Russian verdict reflects a strong public frustration
Though Putin was certainly expected to retain his majority in the lower house and sure to win next March's presidential election, the Russian electorate gave a shock to him and his comrade-in-arms, Dmirty Medvedev, reflecting a strong public frustration with the lack of political competition, growing complaints of corruption and widening gulf between the rich and the poor.
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), which got on Sunday more than 19 per cent, would have 92 seats in the Duma, 35 more than it held previously.
A Just Russia Party of ex-upper house chairman Sergei Mironov, positioning itself as Social-democratic with European values has emerged on the third spot and is expected to get 64 seats against 38 it had in the old Duma, Churov said.
Image: Police detain an activist during a protest rally by opposition group
Photographs: Anton Golubev/Reuters
Heavy losses for the ruling party
The fourth party, which crossed the 7 per cent threshold for representation in the sixth Duma, the Liberal Democratic Party of firebrand ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky got 56 seats against 40 it had in the old house.
The ruling party, which fought the election with Medvedev as its lead candidate in Duma polls, is also reported to have suffered heavy losses in the elections of the legislative assemblies of 27 regions, including his and Putin's hometown St Petersburg, simultaneously held on Sunday.
Image: 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, on Sunday
Photographs: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters