MOSCOW — Russia’s long dominant party appeared likely to lose its edge as voters across the sprawling country cast ballots for Parliament on Sunday, many of them frustrated over corruption and the gap between ordinary Russians and the super-rich.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party has signaled it is worried about polls showing it could receive only a bit more than half the votes, cracking down on an independent election monitor and warning of political instability.
The Kremlin is determined to see United Russia maintain its two-thirds majority, an unassailable dominance that allows it to amend the constitution. Both Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev made final appeals for the party on Friday, the last day of campaigning, warning that a parliament made up of diverse political camps would be incapable of making decisions.
The view underlines Russian authorities’ continuing discomfort with political pluralism and preference for top-down operation. As president in 2000-2008, Putin’s strongman leadership style won wide support among Russians exhausted by a decade of post-Soviet uncertainty.