Russia goes to the polls on Sunday to elect the Duma, the lower house of the federal parliament.
The electorate will vote to fill 450 seats in a ballot that has been brought forward from December 4.
Polls suggest that voter apathy has reached epidemic proportions, with 43 percent claiming to have completely ignored the campaign and a mere nine percent have admitted to following events, according to the Levada Centre, which monitors Russian public opinion.
There is only one winner and that is the party of former president and serving Prime Minister Dmitry Mevedev’s United Russia.
It is suggested that United Russia will claim 41.1 percent of the vote and thus a guaranteed 300 seats.
By law President Vladimir Putin is barred from lending his image to the campaign.
The Russian Communist Party led by Gennadiy Zyuganov is steeled to lose its number two billing in the Duma, which it has held since the 90’s.
The aging demographic of Communist support means the voter base is diminishing and Zyuganov, at the age of 72, is in no mood to relinquish his leadership.
The beneficiaries look set to be the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and Vladimir Zhirinovsky the ultra-nationalist leader.
Polls suggest his party will oust the Communists and become the second biggest party after United Russia.
Sergey Mironov leads A Just Russia an amalgamation of the Russian Party of Life, and the Russian Pensioners’ Party.
Mironov is subject to international sanctions because of alleged involvement in 2014 Crimea crisis and accused by the Ukrainian government of providing financial support to the armed insurgents.
Former Prime Minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, is the co-chair of PARNAS and an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin as well as a fierce campaigner for free and fair elections.
Opinion polls forecast a gloomy result for Kasyanov as the party is struggling against the weight of support for United Russia.
As for Putin he is no doubt preparing for the 2018 presidential election though he has yet to announce his candidature.
Despite Russia being in recession since early last year Putin’s popularity is sky-high and it would take a seismic shift in Russian politics to derail another run for the presidency.
Euronews journalist Marina Ostrovskaya looks ahead to Russia’s upcoming general election: “On Sunday Russia goes to the polls to elect a new parliament. Could the result change the political landscape and alter the balance of power in Russia?Joining us is Valery Fedorov the director of the Russian public opinion research centre.
According to the results of the latest opinion polls you said that the ruling United Russia would win the election. While at the same time the numbers show its popularity is on the wane. What are the reasons for this phenomenon?”
Valery Fedorov Director of the Russian Public Opinion Research Centre:“During the last three months the support for United Russia fell from 45 to 39 percent. It was a steady trend not a free fall. Our latest survey we finished last weekend shows the fall has stopped and today support is around 41.5 percent. And now the destiny of the election is clear. United Russia has mobilised all its resources, and called for presidential support. So we can offer a clear forecast, even if the party falls below the previous 49 percent, this time it will get 43 to 45 percent or even 47 percent.
Marina Ostrovskaya:“Which party will pick up the votes of those disaffected with the current leadership.”
Valery Fedorov:’‘We are seeing a rise in support for the Liberal-Democratic party of Russia,
Zhirinovsky’s party, that’s the main trend. Last time it just made the threshold to enter the Duma. This time it looks set to become the second biggest player in the new parliament with 11 percent. The Communists are performing badly
and are likely to lose their position as the second biggest party. Another opposition party A Just Russia picked up 13 percent last time, they are down on that and will receive six or seven percent.”
Marina Ostrovskaya:“And what about the smaller parties, those outside the Duma, Yabloko, Parnas, the Party of Russian Pensioners for Justice, do they have any chance?”
Valery Fedorov:“In the case of Yabloko we are looking at three percent. This will be a major breakthrough for the party because the three percent will give the party the right to state funding. That will help them campaign for the next election, the presidential election in 2108.
The Party of Russian Pensioners for Justice is a strange entity they have no real leader, but have a good name and excellent slogans. The problem for funding Russian pensions is very real along with the problems of social justice, they are fundamental problems. I expect maybe three to four percent.Rodina (motherland) has a slight chance perhaps two or three percent, but PARNAS won’t pass one percent.”
Marina Ostrovskaya:“Why do you think the election was brought forward from December to September? Will it impact on turnout?’‘
Valery Fedorov:“We predict a fall in turnout and we see a lot of reasons for this. One being a change in the central commissions electoral administration, which has a strict attitude toward electoral fraud, and election manipulation. Human rights activist Ella Pamfilova is the chief and the commission is cracking down on fraud. The season plays a part and voters don’t now have a lot of time to consider the issues. The active phase of the campaign this time is around two to three weeks, last time it was longer around six to eight weeks.’‘