Dec. 5 - Vladimir Putin's United Russia Party win slight majority in most recent parliamentary elections, the biggest blow to power base in a decade. Jessica Gray reports.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's ruling party won the latest country-wide parliamentary polls. But it wasn't the landslide victory the United Russia Party was hoping for. The party got 49.5 per cent of the vote to cling to 238 seats, down from 315. It's the biggest elections setback for Putin since he rose to power in 1999. Russians in the capital say the result could mean the party will be forced to change its game plan if it wants to win the presidential polls next March. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) MOSCOW CARNEGIE CENTRE ANALYST NIKOLAI PETROV, SAYING: "The current result, in principle, doesn't change very much in terms of the lineup in the State Duma, but it's very important because it expresses rather large shifts in the political atmosphere and accordingly, expectations and a push to the authorities towards political modernization will be correspondingly higher." But that wasn't the message coming from officials a day after the Sunday election. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) SECRETARY OF PRESIDIUM OF GENERAL COUNCIL OF UNITED RUSSIA, SERGEI NEVEROV SAYING: "The main result of the election campaign is that the people have once again voted for the course of the country's president, leader of our election list Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev, the head of the government, leader of our party Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and for the course the United Russia is pursuing today." Voters fed up with widespread corruption fear Putin's run for another term as president could lead Russia's economy to stagnate. Opposition parties were also angry, accusing United Russian candidates of hogging television air time and spending big cash to win. Jessica Gray, Reuters