It’s almost unprecedented. United Russia (the Putin party) has lost the super majority it once needed to fiddle with the Constitution as much as they like. There’s an actual chance of legitimate democracy breaking out again in Russia!
Hillary Clinton has criticized the legitimacy of these elections (and so has Medvedev, interestingly enough, but for different reasons). Mikhail Gorbachev also did the same thing. Putin is furious. There are viral videos (if you read Russian, the first link has an example of one) of guys voting more than once.
Let’s take a look at the results (note: Yes, I’m sourcing wikipedia, but I checked the Russian page it cited first).
|A Just Russia||64||26||14.21%||8,689,147||13.25%||5.51%|
|Liberal Democratic Party||56||16||12.45%||7,659,657||11.68%||3.54%|
|Patriots of Russia||0||0||0%||638,735||0.97%||0.08%|
|Right Cause||0||0||0%||392,507||0.60%||new part|
If you aren’t familiar with Russian politics, some of the parties will need some explanation. “A Just Russia” is a Social Democratic Party, along the lines of the modern German SPD. Yabloko (Apple, in Russian) is the more traditional democratic party. The Liberal Democratic Party is neither liberal nor democratic. “Right Cause” is supposed to be a standard free market party, but it’s already been shown to be relatively pro-Kremlin.
So it looks like the two big winners are the Communists and “A Just Russia.” Now, the Communist Party is kinder and gentler than the old CPSU, and most of their vote is honestly the nostalgia vote. That “A Just Russia” is number three is cause for real hope.
What does this mean in the short term? Not much. United Russia can still do whatever it likes, and either the Liberal Democrats or the Communists will probably support Putin in most situations. Putin will probably still be reelected for President next year, since he’s easily the most popular politician in Russia. In the long term, however, it could be something much more significant. If the election results are annulled and international organizations closely monitor the elections (probably the best case scenario)? It’s almost anybody’s ball game, and that’s really exciting.