Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Duma Draw Favors Little-Known Party

Friday was a lucky day for a little-known party called Unification, as a random drawing by the Central Elections Commission put it at the top of the heap of 23 parties on the ballot for December's State Duma elections.

Calling the draw "the most democratic and indisputable way" to decide the list order, commission chairman Alexander Veshnyakov oversaw the spinning of a big glass ball, from which party representatives pulled ping-pong balls to determine their place on the ballot paper.

While liberal parties SPS and Yabloko were lucky enough to pull spots among the top five, drawing No. 2 and 4, respectively, those in attendance seemed bemused when the long-suffering Communist Party drew the very bottom spot on the list, at 23.

United Russia, with which the Communists are running almost neck and neck in opinion polls, did not fare a lot better, drawing the 20th slot.

Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the only big-name politician to attend the event, meanwhile walked away with No. 18, and struggled to put a positive spin on the draw.

"The best spots are usually at the very top and the very bottom of the ballot, and it is undesirable to be in the middle," Zhirinovsky said. "People may be tired and may not take the time to read through the whole list." He said his party had turned in a strong showing in the 1995 elections, when LDPR was 33rd on a ballot of 43 parties. "We made it [then], so we can do it now," he said.

The size of the campaign field was locked in at 23 parties Friday morning, when the commission cleared 10 more parties to compete in the elections in its final two rounds of consideration Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

When the Oct. 22 deadline for submitting documents passed, only 13 parties had been registered of 25 that had applied. It appeared as if the dozen unregistered parties could run the risk of falling out of the race, with Veshnyakov warning as late as last Monday that those who filed at the last minute might not be approved.

In the end, however, the field only narrowed from 25 to 23, when two parties opted to withdraw their federal lists from consideration.

The remaining 10 were approved. The Unification, Peace and Unity, Constitutional-Democratic and Green parties and the Pensioners and Social Equality bloc were registered Thursday, while the True Patriots, the Democratic Party of Russia, For Holy Rus, SLON and the People's Republican parties were registered Friday.

Of the 23 parties on the ballot, 18 are legally structured as parties and five are election blocs, through which multiple parties are allied.

To register their federal lists, parties had the choice of either submitting 200,000 signatures, to be verified by the commission, or paying a deposit of 37.5 million rubles ($1.23 million). Only the True Patriots opted to pay the fee, which will go into the federal budget if the party fails to win a mandatory 3 percent of the vote.

Parties on Duma Ballot

1. Unification (Yedineniye)

2. Union of Right Forces, or SPS (Soyuz Pravikh Sil)

3. Pensioners' and Social Justice bloc (Partiya Pensionerov i Partiya Sotsialnoi Spravedlivosti)

4. Yabloko

5. For Holy Rus (Za Rus Svyatuyu)

6. Rus (Obyedinennaya Rossiiskaya Partiya Rus)

7. New Course-Automotive Russia bloc (Novy Kurs-Avtomobilnaya Rossiya)

8. People's Republican Party (Narodno-Respublikansaya Partiya Rossii)

9. Green Party (Rossiyskaya Ekologicheskaya Partiya "Zelyonie")

10. Agrarian Party

11. True Patriots (Istinniye Patrioty Rossii)

12. People's Party (Narodnaya Partiya Rossiiskoi Federatsii)

13. Democratic Party of Russia (Demokraticheskaya Partiya Rossii)

14. Great Russia-Eurasian Union bloc (Velikaya Rossiya-Yevraziisky Soyuz)

15. SLON

16. Homeland bloc (Rodina)

17. Peace and Unity party (Partiya Mira i Edinstva)

18. Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR)

19. Russia's Rebirth-Party of Life bloc (Vozrozhdeniya Rossiya-Partiya Zhizni)

20. United Russia (Yedinaya Rossiya)

21. Constitutional-Democratic Party (Konstitutsionno-Demokraticheskaya Partiya)

22. Development of Entrepreneurship party (Razvitiye Predprinimatelstva)

23. Communist Party (KPRF)