Just like Ukraine, Russia will soon be electing all 450 of its legislators* in a single national district, via closed lists. Unlike Ukraine, however, in Russia the new electoral system is part of a centralized ruling party’s process of further centralization. Russia is, unsurprisingly given the narrowing of political space under outgoing President Vladimir Putin, headed for a hegemonic-party system. A recent Angus Reid poll suggests:
United Russia (YR): 46%
Communist Party (KPRF): 9%
Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR): 9%
A Just Russia: 7%
Agrarian Party of Russia (APR): 2%
Yabloko (Liberal): 1%
Union of Right Forces (SPS): 1%
Another party 1%
Would not vote: 7%
Hard to answer: 19%
(I am pretty sure I have never seen a poll with “Hard to answer” as an option before.)
The threshold is 7% (compare Ukraine’s 3%). So, the poll suggests only two or three small parties aside from YR would make it into parliament. It would not take many parties missing the threshold to result in sufficient wasted votes to give YR a majority of seats, even if it indeed wins only 46% of the vote. But it is likely that it will win much more than 50% of the votes, once we take the nonvoters out of the denominator, and imagine that the “hard to answer” bloc ultimately will include a significant number of YR voters. In fact, I would guess we could be looking at two thirds to three quarters of the seats for United Russia.
The election is 2 December. The presidential election to choose (make that anoint) Putin’s successor is expected in March, 2008.
* Unlike Ukraine, Russia also has an upper house, though its members are not elected.