RUSSIAN FEDERATION
Parliamentary Chamber: Gossoudarstvennaya Duma

ELECTIONS HELD IN 2003

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Chamber:
  Gossoudarstvennaya Duma


Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  7 December 2003


Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all the seats of the State Duma on the normal expiry of the members' term of office.


Background and outcome of elections:

  On 2 September 2003, President Putin signed a decree formally designating 7 December as the date for State Duma elections.

The parliamentary poll would be followed in March 2004 by the presidential elections, which added huge significance and pressure to the parliamentary election campaign that was launched on 7 November 2003.

The campaign was marked by the entry into force of new legislation governing electoral campaigns in Russia and their coverage by the media. The new law provides for far more details about how to run an election campaign in general. It also pays careful attention to how the media should cover campaigns and defines the difference between "informing" and "campaigning." The most controversial article of the new legislation is one that allows the Central Electoral Commission to issue warnings to media outlets and the Information Ministry to ask a court to suspend the outlets for the duration of the campaign after two warnings.

Twenty-three parties were competing for half of the 450 places in the State Duma while the other 225 seats were being contested by individual candidates on a first-past-the-post basis. President Vladimir Putin had emphasized the importance to him of having in the Duma "a majority of responsible politicians." Mr. Putin has openly praised the United Russia Party's support for the Kremlin's initiatives. The main opposition party, the Communist Party, focused its campaign on completely changing the character of the current government, and presented its programme as highly critical of the Kremlin.

The campaign came against a backdrop of allegations of Kremlin authoritarianism, after the arrest of the oil company Yukos President Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The arrest of the oil magnate was seen by his lawyers as politically motivated because Mr. Khodorkovsky had supported some minor opposition parties.

More than 1,100 international observers from 48 states were accredited for the election. The Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which together had fielded some 500 observers to monitor the election, stated that it had failed to meet many democratic criteria and criticised the biased use of taxpayers' money and State television to promote certain parties. A White House spokesman declared that "we share those concerns" and called for further political reform. On the other hand, President Vladimir Putin hailed the State Duma election as "another step in strengthening democracy" in Russia.

Regarding the seats allocated under the proportional system, the United Russia Party led the poll with 37.5 per cent of the votes and 120 seats while the Communist Party took second place with 12.6 per cent (40), followed by the ultra-nationalist party of Mr. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia with 11.45 per cent (36). The two liberal, pro-free market parties, the Union of Right Forces (SPS) and Yabloko, failed to get the 5% of votes needed to win party list seats. With respect to the single-member constituency seats, the United Russia Party obtained 103 seats, the Communist Party 12, the Yabloko 4 and the Union of Right Forces 3. Some 67 independent candidates also gained seats.

On 29 December 2003, Mr. Boris Gryzlov, leader of the United Russia Duma fraction, was elected Speaker of the Duma.

STATISTICS
Round no 1 (7 December 2003): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 108 906 244
Voters 60 633 179 (55.7 %)
Blank or invalid ballot papers 984 411
Valid votes 59 684 768

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total Proportional Majority
United Russia 223 120 103
Communist Party (KPRF) 52 40 12
Motherland bloc 37 29 8
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) 36 36 0
People's Party 17 0 17
Yabloko 4 0 4
Union of Right-Wing Forces 3 0 3
Party of Russia's Renewal 3 0 3
Agrarian Party of Russia 2 0 2
Independents 67 0 67
Others 3 0 3

Comments:
  There are three vacant seats
Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 402
Women: 45
Percent of women: 10.07

Distribution of seats according to age:  
Under 30 years: 9
31 to 40 years: 74
41 to 50 years: 135
51 to 60 years: 179
Over 60 years: 50


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Copyright 2003 Inter-Parliamentary Union