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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Party Rating Jumps with Putin's Help

Support among voters for United Russia has risen to a record high after President Vladimir Putin announced that he would run on the party's ticket in this year's State Duma elections, according to an opinion poll.

The poll, released late Tuesday, indicated that 54 percent of voters questioned planned to vote for United Russia in the Dec. 2 elections, up from 48 percent in the previous poll at the end of September, said VTsIOM, a state-controlled polling agency.

It put the increase down to Putin's popularity rubbing off on the party. "The decision by Putin to become No. 1 on the United Russia party list has ... given that party an additional 6 percent of votes," VTsIOM said.

Putin is not expected to serve in the Duma after the elections. He exploited a legal loophole that allows serving officials to run for the Duma but not take up their seat. The Central Elections Commission has ruled that Putin does not need to take a leave of office to run on United Russia's ticket.

VTsIOM said United Russia's rating was the highest since it started including the party in its opinion polls in 2002. Its closest rivals in the poll were the Communist Party, with 6 percent, and the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, with 5 percent.

A party has to win more than 7 percent of the vote to qualify for seats, but to ensure there are at least two parties in the parliament, this requirement is waived if only one party gets over the threshold.