In a vote criticized for ballot box stuffing and political intimidation, Vladimir Putin's United Russia party looks to hold 238 parliamentary seats, down from 315. Nearly doubling their votes from last elections, Russia's Communists won 19 percent of the vote, Just Russia snagged 13 percent and the Liberal Democrats netted almost 12, with 95 percent of the votes processed. According to the Associated Press, the poor performance by Putin's party reflected "frustration" with widespread corruption and a "lack of political competition." Ending United Russia's two-thirds supermajority, President Dimitri Medvedev acknowledged that Sunday's vote would prompt the formation of a coalition government. So what sort of Putin 2.0 will these elections breed? Here's what analysts are saying:
Get ready for a spending binge Economist speaking with The Wall Street Journal say the chastening of Putin will likely involve increased government spending on social and domestic spending. "The government will probably spend its way into a rare first-quarter deficit of 0.5 percent of GDP ahead of the presidential election, according to Natalia Orlova, chief economist at Alfa Bank." She says "The best way to address his fears of losing control will be to rely on a direct state presence in the economy. He's very disappointed with this voting, and as a result he'll be looking to secure his position economically." Analysts speaking with Reuters agree. "The government will not want to be complacent with another election ahead so we may see a stimulus in the form of increased social spending," Alex Kantarovich, a strategist at JP Morgan, told the news agency. According to Reuters "Federal outlays will rise in 2012 by a nominal 14 percent, driven by a trebling of military pay and major hikes in national security and social spending."
Political repression Election monitors speaking with The New York Times criticized the election process saying the competition was limited and noted that ballot box stuffing in a number of precincts was reported. The fact that United Russia still preformed poorly is somewhat startling, notes Paul Roderick Gregory at Forbes. "To understand the magnitude of this electoral drubbing, consider a U.S. election in which Republican candidates are banned, and the Democrats vie against the Green, Libertarian, and the Freedom Socialist Parties" and still can't win a majority. "With rising discontent, he must raise the level of political repression. He must constantly be on guard to prevent the one act that could set in motion an Arab Spring in Russia. He has already warned the opposition it must be 'loyal' to the greater cause, or else." In an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, the paper says the elections show "that Russians are increasingly fed up with the regime's brazen corruption, a weak economy overly dependent on energy exports, and the country's stagnant politics. As long as Russia is run as a one-man show, the frustration expressed this weekend will only build."