With polling stations closing the first exit polls from the Russian parliamentary elections give the government party United Russia a comfortable lead.
The exit poll results from FOM are: United Russia 48.7%, Liberal Democratic Party (Zhirinovsky’s party) 14.2%, Communist Party of the Russian Federation 16.3%, A Just Russia 7.6%.
A different exit poll from VCIOM gives similar but slightly different figures, with United Russia party winning 44.5%, with the LDPR second with 15.3%, and the Communist Party third with 14.9%.
If these exit polls are correct then it would suggest that the balance of forces in the new Duma will be very similar to that of the outgoing Duma, though the nationalist Liberal Democrat party of Vladimir Zhirinovsky seem to have gained ground at the expense of the two left wing parties, the Communist Party and A Just Russia.
Exit polls are not always reliable whether in Russia or anywhere else. Moreover in these elections there is a wild card in that only half the seats in the Duma are being allocated according to proportional representation, with the other half being allocated in first past the post voting in single member constituencies. Whilst that is expected to work to United Russia’s further advantage, it might throw up a few mavericks in odd places.
Though there are no final figures, it seems turnout is well down and may be as low as 40%.