Note February 2016. These were done for the Russia Profile Weekly Experts’ Panel which I cannot find on the Net now. Many were picked up by other sources and I have given links where I can find them.
The preliminary results show United Russia down about 14 points, the Communists and Zhirinovskiy (who, to some degree, share an electorate) up about 10 points (to their combined level of the 1999 election, thereby reversing a gentle decline in their total since the high in 1993 when they totalled 35%). Just Russia is up about 6 points and the other three parties remain in the weeds, failing to cross the 7% entry barrier (or the coming 5% for that matter). Turnout is down about three and a half points. Given the way the calculations work, therefore, United Russia will have about 225 seats, well down from its 315 the last time around. It would seem therefore, that of the now-disgruntled former United Russia voters, some stayed home, some voted Communist or Zhirinovskiy and some voted for Just Russia. In any case, Yabloko and Right Cause – the “liberal” parties – did not profit.
Putin & Co are victims of their own success. Yeltsin’s team tried to create “pedestal parties” to support him in the Duma – Russia’s Choice, Our Home Russia – but they were feeble attempts: hurriedly assembled, indifferent performers and soon forgotten. United Russia has proved to be more enduring and more successful. But it has the weakness of being only a pedestal for the Boss to stand on: its ideas are the Boss’; its members are the powerful and their hangers-on; its notion of creativity is waiting for the phone to ring. All deficiencies that Putin and Medvedev have complained about many times. This is not inspiring and it is clear that the population is tiring of it. Although it is worth pointing out that in any parliamentary system, 50% would be regarded as a major victory. But nonetheless a fall from two-thirds to one-half is not a vote of confidence.
Putin and Medvedev are taking it calmly. Indeed, since the result accords well with opinion polls from many sources over some months, they must have known it was coming.
Which raises, to my mind, the principal lesson that should be clear to everybody: Russian elections do, reasonably accurately, represent the state of feeling in the country. Of course there is fiddling at the edges, pressure is brought to bear and all the rest. But no country can afford to preach because no country runs a stainless system. But, as I and others have maintained for years, Russian elections do give, grosso modo, the state of the nation. In short, they are sufficiently free and fair.
The anti-Russia league, for whom it is and always has been an unshakeable article of faith that Russian elections are phoney, will have great difficulty in continuing to claim that Russian elections are manipulated, decided-in-advance, shams created by the Kremlin to fool the simple-minded. Efficient dictatorships run efficient elections; even if they have to throw out the ballots and replace them with the “correct ones”. It is inconceivable that the cunning and evil master manipulator that they believe Putin to be would have manipulated the results so that his party lost 90 seats and its command of parliament.
But I’m sure that they will try to save their theory, no matter how they have to twist reality. I look forward with amusement to watch them.