Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party appears to have lost the trust of millions of Russians after early results showed it had won less than fifty per cent of the vote in a parliamentary election on Sunday.
Russian central election commission last night said United Russia was leading the elections with 45.8 per cent of the vote with just under 17 per cent of precincts reporting.
Should the early results be echoed nationally, it would mean Mr Putin’s party has haemorrhaged support since it won almost 64 per cent in the last parliamentary election in 2007 and backs up anecdotal evidence that millions of Russians are beginning to tire of the regime’s dominance of political life.
Mr Putin said the initial results would ensure the country’s “stable development”. Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian preisdent, said the results reflect “the real set of moods in our country” and was an example of “democracy in action”.
The vote is unlikely to stop Mr Putin, who is currently prime minister, from returning to the presidency next year for a third time but it will cause unease in the Kremlin which has worked hard to prop up his personal ratings which remain above 50 per cent.
“His ratings have fallen,” admitted Yelena Orlova, a pensioner who voted for his party on Sunday. She said corruption scandals had damaged his party’s image but that he still remained the most capable politician.