Putin party sweeps polls amid low voter turnout

Sep 19, 2016, 7:23 AM EDT
Russian President Vladimir Putin
(Source: Global Panorama/flickr)

The United Russia party, backed by President Vladimir Putin, swept the parliamentary elections, securing more than half of the votes amid reports of voting irregularities and record low turnout. With 93 percent of the votes counted, the party had won more than 54 percent votes and 343 seats in the 450-member parliament. The result is a big boost for Putin, who seeks another presidential term in 2018.

Putin, who has an approval rating of about 80 percent, is viewed as the only viable option by Russian voters, reports Reuters. Many voters fear that an end to the Putin regime might kick off another spell of “chaos and instability,” similar to what to happened in 1990s immediately after the Soviet Union collapse.

The voter turnout of about 47 percent remains the lowest in Russia’s modern history, writes the BBC. Analysts blame the decreasing electoral participation on apathy among many Russian voters, which has resulted from hardships of an economic downturn.

Although in some cases, blatant ballot stuffing was caught on camera, observers say that the current elections have been much cleaner than the ones five years ago, notes The Guardian. Many critics say that the polls are skewed from the outset, given the biased use of state machinery and resources.