UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Russia’s ruling United Russia party, which backs President Vladimir Putin, has lost about a third of the seats it held in Moscow’s local elections, the Russian news agency said, suggesting an opposition strategy applied by the opposition may have been successful.
Sunday’s election was highlighted after the exclusion of a large number of opposition candidates triggered the biggest protests in the Russian capital in nearly a decade.
Despite being local, prominent opposition politician Alexei Navalny and his allies saw the Moscow election as an opportunity to succeed at the expense of the United Russia party before the general election in 2021.
The protests began in mid-July after the Central Electoral Commission refused to register a large number of opposition candidates in the polls, claiming they had not collected enough signatures from supporters.
Navalny advised his supporters to vote across Russia in favor of the front-runner to defeat the United Russia party.
Candidates from the United Russia party in Moscow have reclassified themselves as independents in an apparent attempt to distance themselves from the party, whose popularity has plunged to its lowest level in more than a decade.
Nearly complete data cited by RIA showed that United Russia had lost about a third of the seats it controlled.
The party is on course to win 26 of the 45 seats in Moscow’s parliament, enough to hold a majority, the agency said. In 2014, the party won 28 seats for its own candidates as well as 10 independent candidates to support them.
This time, the Communist Party snatched seats from the United Russia party, reportedly holding 13 seats, up from five, while the Free Yabloko Party and another party each won three.
The ruling party’s popularity has been affected by resentment over moves to raise the retirement age at a time of steady decline in income.
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