Power carve-up in Duma after ruling party’s poll slump

The dominant force in Russian politics, United Russia, will for the first time have to learn the art of compromise following the erosion of its parliamentary majority in State Duma elections at the weekend.

­With the vote count all but completed, the overall picture of a brand new board of lawmakers is now emerging.  With just under 50% of vote, the party of the president and prime minister has lost significant clout, its parliamentary muscle a shadow of the two-thirds majority it boasted for years.

Among the parties United Russia will have to court or combat in the new parliament are the Communists, who came in second, and Fair Russia and the Liberal Democrats, who also secured Duma mandates.

The four other parties which took part in the elections failed to pass the 7 per cent vote barrier required to ensure seats in the new lower house.

In contrast to the 2007 election, when United Russia got 64 per cent of the vote, in 2011, the party failed to gain a constitutional majority – the much-coveted two thirds – in the Russian State Duma.

However, since the votes polled by parties which failed to reach the threshold will be distributed among the winners, the United Russia Party is set to end up with more than 50 per cent of the seats, which means they will be able to pass all bills proposed by the cabinet. It means they will not need to form a coalition with any other party.

United Russia’s top brass have made public their intention to form alliances within the  Duma.

Meanwhile, early results have left some voters angry. On Monday in the center of Moscow, several thousand protesters gathered to express their discontent with the result of the parliamentary vote.

Around 5,000 people came to a rally sanctioned by the Moscow authorities.

Protesters chanted “Russia needs new elections,” “Russia without Putin,” “Revolution,” and “Shame.” Police did not intervene in the rally until several hundreds protestors took to neighboring  streets. After the crowd attempted to attract attention by disrupting traffic, they faced a police cordons and up to 600 were arrested.

A similar situation unfolded on Monday in Saint Petersburg, where several thousand protesters rallied in favor of different opposition parties and against the way the election had been conducted.

Also on Monday, a pro-United Russia rally which took place in central Moscow passed off peacefully. 

No tanks were sighted in Moscow on Tuesday despite rumors in the Russian blogosphere, reports RT’s Peter Oliver. However, it has been confirmed that riot police have drafted in more staff to maintain order on the streets.

Meanwhile, some international observers have spoken of fraud and widespread violations of election rules, while others have insisted any irregularities were insignificant, declared accusations unjustified, and maintained that the vote should be considered legitimate. 

President Dmitry Medvedev has promised that any accusations of electoral fraud will be investigated and anyone found guilty of infringements prosecuted.