United Russia Dominates at the Polls

Itar-TassPresident Vladimir Putin is featured in a Party of Life billboard in Lipetsk.
United Russia ran away with parliamentary elections in nine regions over the weekend, Central Elections Commission chief Alexander Veshnyakov announced Monday.

The so-called party of power won a total of 244 parliamentary seats in the republics of Chuvashia, Karelia and Tuva, the Astrakhan, Lipetsk, Novgorod, Primorye and Sverdlovsk regions and the Jewish Autonomous Region.

The Party of Life, Rodina and the Pensioners' Party, which are set to merge later this year into an ostensibly center-left party loyal to the Kremlin, won a total of just 49 seats.

The three parties used the regional elections to jockey for positions in advance of their upcoming merger, said Alexei Makarkin, an analyst at the Center for Political Technologies.

"The parties were competing with each other over the format of the future party," he said.

Federation Council Chairman and Party of Life head Sergei Mironov now has a strong claim to run the new party, after his party won 23 seats, Makarkin said. The Pensioners' Party, which won 19 seats, also emerged in a strong position.

Rodina, which won just seven seats, is the clear loser in the group, demonstrating that its previous popularity owed largely to the personal appeal of its former leaders, Dmitry Rogozin and Sergei Glazyev, Makarkin said.

The Communist Party ran third in the Oct. 8 elections with 31 seats. The Liberal Democratic Party managed just seven seats.

Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov and his deputy, Ivan Melnikov, complained about violations that had robbed his party of votes, Interfax reported. Yet on its official web site, the party boasted that it had increased the total number of seats it held in the regional legislatures.