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Russia's ruling party to win Duma majority


MOSCOW, (Xinhua): Russia's Central Election Commission (CEC) announced Monday that the ruling United Russia party won 49.54 percent of the votes after 95.71 percent of the ballots were counted.

According to the CEC, the United Russia may gain 238 seats out of the 450 seats and enjoy a majority in the State Duma, or the lower house of the parliament.

The United Russia was followed by the Communist Party with 19.16 percent. A Just Russia party garnered 13.22 percent, compared with 11.66 percent for the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.

Two exit polls suggested earlier that the same four parties could enter the new Duma and Putin's ruling party might lose majority in the lower house of parliament it has enjoyed for years.

The United Russia won 64.3 percent of the vote in 2007 elections, gaining 315 seats and holding a two-thirds majority in the State Duma.

Andrei Vorobyov, chairman of United Russia's central executive committee, told reporters that the party loses nothing no matter what the final results will be.

"We have lost nothing. We have once again gained the most valuable thing a political party may ever hope for -- the trust of the voters," he said.

"We have confirmed our leading positions," he added.

Late on Sunday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who led the party's list in the elections, said that the United Russia would have to join a coalition with other political parties on certain issues in the new Duma.

"We will have to take into account the more complex configuration of the Duma and for some issues we will have to join coalition bloc agreements," the president said at the United Russia headquarters.

The three other small factions -- the Yabloko, the Patriots of Russia and the Right Cause -- secured less than 4 percent of votes each, according to the CEC.

Leader of the Yabloko Grigory Yavlinsky said that he would contest the results of the elections, which gave the Yabloko a 3.25-percent of the ballots, far below the 7-percent election threshold.

Under Russia's electoral laws, the State Duma's 450 seats are distributed on a proportional basis to all parties that receive at least 7 percent of the vote.

In addition, any party with 6 percent to 7 percent of the vote gains two seats, and a party with 5 percent to 6 percent secures one seat.

Russia's eligible voters on Sunday cast their ballots in some 94,000 domestic polling stations in Russia and about 370 overseas stations in more than 140 foreign countries.

According to the CEC, some one percent of election ballots in the polling stations have been declared invalid.

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