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Big win for Putin-backed party in election

dpadpa 18/09/2016

United Russia, backed by President Vladimir Putin, has won a majority in the country's parliamentary election, far ahead of rival parties.

Russia's ruling political party has secured three-quarters of the country's lower house of parliament in popular elections over the weekend.

The elections, widely seen as a barometer of popular support for the President Vladimir Putin-backed United Russia in the first parliamentary race since Russia occupied and annexed neighbouring Ukraine's Crimea region two years ago, were to determine all 450 members of the lower house of parliament, the State Duma.

The United Russia party won 203 of the single-mandate seats and 140 of the "party list" seats determined by its percentage of a general vote for political parties, the Central Elections Committee announced, after more than 90 per cent of the ballots had been counted.

United Russia's combined 343 seats mean that it controls more than 75 per cent of the Duma. There are no direct elections for the country's upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, because its members are appointed by regional administrations.

Fewer than half of Russia's registered voters participated in Sunday's elections, with the countrywide turnout at 47.81 per cent, the Central Elections Committee's head, prominent human rights defender Ella Pamfilova, said in comments carried by the Interfax news agency.

Russia does not require a minimum voter turnout for the Duma elections to be valid.

The Communist Party came in second in the party list vote, with 13.45 per cent, and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), which contrary to its name actually comprises far-right nationalists, received 13.24 per cent, according to the preliminary results.

Russia's fourth major party, the social-democratic A Just Russia, received 6.17 per cent, the elections committee announced. The Communists won seven of the single-mandate seats, as did A Just Russia, while LDPR won five.

Representatives of two other parties, the leftist Rodina ("Motherland") and the economic liberalist Civic Platform, each won a seat, as did an independent, according to the preliminary results.

Voting irregularities were reported in several areas and the head of the election commission suggested that the results might be cancelled in three polling stations.

Liberal opposition parties failed to get enough votes for party-list representation.

"To my utmost regret, not one other party managed to get over the five per cent barrier," said Central Election Commission head Ella Pamfilova.

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