Putin's party 'to lose seats' in parliamentary vote

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Putin's party 'to lose seats' in parliamentary vote

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Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party could lose its two-thirds majority in parliament, according to one opinion poll published on Friday.

Surveys say United Russia will lose sixty-two seats in the December 4 election. It won 315 seats out of a possible 450 in the 2007 poll.

Russian Prime Minister Putin claims that could tip the country into a Europe-style economic crisis.

“A divided parliament will have a negative impact for the economy because if we aren’t able to make the necessary decisions at the necessary time, we just live on promises at the expense of the future generation like we did in the 1990s,” he told party members at a meeting in Moscow.

“This will drag us to the point where our friends in Europe already find themselves.”

Independent pollsters Levada predict United Russia will be backed by 51 percent of the people who cast ballots.

Levada’s director Lev Gudkov says United Russia will still take the majority in the Duma because it is well-organised politically and has managed to sideline the party’s opponents.

Its nearest rival, the Communist Party, is predicted to finish second with 94 seats.

Taking a two thirds-majority in the lower-house Duma in the last election allowed United Russia to change the constitution and pave the way for Putin to return as president.

That is a move that has stirred scepticism from some Russian voters.

Dasha, a student at Moscow State University, said she feared that political stagnation could grip Russia if Putin’s party wins again.

“How many years has United Russia been in power. Eight years? If it will be another 12 years, I think Russia will just collapse,” she told Reuters.

Putin is set to be nominated as his party’s presidential candidate on Sunday. That vote takes place in March next year.