The expected overwhelming victory of Putin’s United Russia party has lived up to expectations, but amidst this triumph comes evidence the Russian people are committed to the ideals of democracy. United Russia was expected to garner about 60% of the vote which would give them about 306 of the 450 seats in the Duma. However, in an amazing turnaround, the Communist Party was on its way to a second place finish with 11% of the vote and two smaller parties which supposedly would not reach the minimum level of 5% appear to have reached that position which will allow them to obtain seats in the Duma. The Liberal Democratic Party will get at least 7% as will Fair Russia which supports Putin.
There are reports from all over Russia that young people were bussed to voting booths where they received things like lottery scratchcards which offered prizes, free food and drink and some were even encouraged to vote more than once. Independent observers were barred from entering some polling stations. Many students and workers were told to vote and vote often for their hero, Putin, or face the consequences on Monday of losing their position in school or their jobs.
The most amazing aspect of the election was the 11% obtained by the only real opposition to Putin– the Communist Party. Most experts did not believe they would even reach a 5% level. This suggests many Russians wanted the semblance of some sort of opposition group in the Duma to United Russia.