Elections in Russia

This article is part of a series on the
Politics of the
Russian Federation

On the federal level, Russia elects a president as head of state and a legislature, one of the two chambers of the Federal Assembly. The president is elected for, at most, two consecutive six-year terms by the people (raised from four years from December 2008).[1] The Federal Assembly (Federalnoe Sobranie) has two chambers. The State Duma (Gosudarstvennaja Duma) has 450 members, elected for five-year terms (also four years up to December 2008), using a system of proportional representation, where parties gain a percentage of seats equal to the percentage of national votes they gained, with a 7% threshold required to gain any seats in the Duma. The Federation Council (Sovet Federatsii) is not directly elected; each of the 85 federal subjects of Russia sends 2 delegates to the Federal Council, for a total of 170 members.[2]

Since 1990, there have been seven elections for the presidency and seven for parliament.

In the seven presidential elections, only once, in 1996, has a second round been needed. There have been three presidents, with Boris Yeltsin elected in 1991 and 1996, Vladimir Putin in 2000, 2004, 2012 and 2018 and Dmitry Medvedev in 2008. The Communist candidate (of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union or the Communist Party of the Russian Federation) has finished second in every case: Nikolai Ryzhkov in 1991, Gennady Zyuganov in 1996, 2000 and 2008 and 2012, Nikolay Kharitonov in 2004 and Pavel Grudinin in 2018. Only in 1996 has there been a third candidate who gained more than 10% of the votes in the first round, Alexander Lebed.

In the parliamentary elections, the Communist Party was the largest party in the 1995 and 1999 elections, with 35% and 24% of the votes respectively. The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia has ranged from 5 to 15% of the votes, and Yabloko won 10% of the votes in 1995 and around 5% in the other three elections. The only other parties that have achieved more than 10% of the votes have been Democratic Choice of Russia with 16% in 1993, Our Home – Russia with 12% in 1995, and, in 1999, Unity with 23%, Fatherland – All Russia with 13% and People's Deputies Faction with 15%. United Russia, an alliance of Unity and Fatherland – All Russia, became the biggest party with 38% in 2003.

Federal elections


The President is elected in a two-round system every six years, with a two consecutive term limitation.[3] Prior to 2012, the term of office was four years. If no candidate wins by an absolute majority in the first round, a second election round is held between two candidates with the most votes.[3] The last presidential election was in 2018, and the next is expected in 2024.[4]


On May 2012 President Medvedev signed a new legislation exempting political parties from the need to collect signatures to run in parliamentary elections.[5]

Regional elections


Regional parliaments

Local (self-government) elections

The two main systems of local government include Mayor–council government in which voters cast their ballot for the mayor who represents the executive branch, and another ballot for the city council. The other system is Council–manager government with a city manager, who is nominated by and accountable to the City Duma.

Criticism of recent elections

Since Vladimir Putin became President of Russia there has been increasing international criticism of the conduct of Russian elections. European institutions who observed the December 2007 legislative elections concluded that these were not fair elections. Göran Lennmarker, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said that the elections "failed to meet many of the commitments and standards that we have. It was not a fair election."[6] Luc Van den Brande, who headed a delegation from the Council of Europe, referred to the "overwhelming influence of the president's office and the president on the campaign" and said there was "abuse of administrative resources" designed to influence the outcome. He also said there were "flaws in the secrecy of the vote." "Effectively, we can't say these were fair elections," he said at a news conference.[7]

In February 2008 The human rights organisation Amnesty International said that the presidential election on 2 March would not be a genuine election: "There is no real opposition ahead of the election. There is no real electoral campaign battle," Friederike Behr, Amnesty's Russia researcher, was quoted as saying. In a report on the elections, Amnesty said laws restricting non-government organizations, police breaking up demonstrations, and harassment from critics were all part of "a systematic destruction of civil liberties in Russia."[8] Another human rights organisation, Freedom House, said that the victory of Putin's party in the 2007 elections "was achieved under patently unfair and non-competitive conditions calling into doubt the result’s legitimacy."[9]

The Russian government has acted to prevent international observers monitoring Russian elections. In 2007 the OSCE was prevented from monitoring the legislative elections held in December.[10] In February 2008 the European Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights announced that it would not send observers to monitor the presidential election on 2 March, citing what it called "severe restrictions" imposed on its work by the Russian government. "We made every effort in good faith to deploy our mission, even under the conditions imposed by the Russian authorities", said Christian Strohal, the organization’s director. "The Russian Federation has created limitations that are not conducive to undertaking election observation".[11] The OSCE has also withdrawn its attempts to monitor the elections.

The 2011 Russian legislative elections were considered to be rigged in favor of the ruling party by a number of journalists and opposition representatives.[12] However public opinion-polls prior to the election suggested that the ruling party could count on the support of 45–55 percent of voters, which may suggest that there were no mass falsifications, despite isolated cases of fraud.[13] Nationwide exit polls were very close to the final results.[14]

In 2015 OSCE called the Russian government to respect and support the work of independent election observers, following a number of incidents where citizen observers were beaten or harassed in regional elections.[15]

Latest elections


Candidate Party Votes %
Vladimir PutinIndependent56,430,71276.69
Pavel GrudininCommunist Party8,659,20611.77
Vladimir ZhirinovskyLiberal Democratic Party4,154,9855.65
Ksenia SobchakCivic Initiative1,238,0311.68
Grigory YavlinskyYabloko769,6441.05
Boris TitovParty of Growth556,8010.76
Maxim SuraykinCommunists of Russia499,3420.68
Sergey BaburinRussian All-People's Union479,0130.65
Invalid/blank votes791,2581.08
Registered voters/turnout109,008,42867.50
Source: CEC


Party PR Constituency Total result
Votes % ±pp Seats Votes % Seats Seats +/–
United Russia28,527,82854.204.87 140 25,162,77048.42 203 343 +105
Communist Party of the Russian Federation7,019,75213.345.85 35 6,492,14512.93 7 42 –50
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia6,917,06313.141.47 34 5,064,7949.75 5 39 –17
A Just Russia3,275,0536.227.02 16 5,017,6459.66 7 23 –41
Communists of Russia1,192,5952.27N/A 0 1,847,8243.56 0 0 +0
Yabloko1,051,3351.991.44 0 1,323,7932.55 0 0 +0
Russian Party of Pensioners for Justice910,8481.73N/A[16] 0 No SMC +0
Rodina792,2261.51N/A[17] 0 1,241,6422.39 1 1 +1
Party of Growth679,0301.290.69 0 1,171,2592.250 +0
The Greens399,4290.76N/A[18] 0 770,0761.480+0
People's Freedom Party384,6750.73N/A[19] 0 530,8621.020+0
Patriots of Russia310,0150.590.38 0 704 1971.360+0
Civic Platform115,4330.22N/A 0 364,1000.7011 +1
Civilian Power73,9710.14N/A 0 79,9220.150+0
Independent No Party list429,0510.83 11 +1
Invalid/blank votes 982,5961.87–0.30 1,767,7253.40
Total 52,700,9221000.0022551,967,8051002254500
Registered voters/turnout 110,061,20047.880.00 109,636,79447.40
Source: CIKRF

See also


  1. "The Constitution of the Russian Federation". Garant Service. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  2. "Search". International Herald Tribune. 29 March 2009. Retrieved 14 May 2011.
  3. 1 2 Gueorguieva, Vassia; Simon, Rita James (2009). Voting and Elections the World Over. Global Perspectives on Social Issues Series. Lexington Books. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-7391-3090-2.
  4. Herszenhorn, David M. (5 March 2012). "Observers Detail Flaws in Russian Election". New York Times. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  5. "Medvedev Signs Off on Election, Party Signature Laws", RIA Novosti, May 2, 2012.
  6. (in English) "Monitors denounce Russia election". BBC News. BBC. 3 December 2007. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  7. International Observers Say Russia's Parliamentary Election Not Fair, Fox News, 3 December 2007
  8. February, Reuters (26 February 2008). "No opposition or debate in Russia election: Amnesty". Canada.com. Archived from the original on 9 March 2010. Retrieved 14 May 2011.
  9. "Russian Elections Lack Legitimacy; Meaningful Political Competition Absent". Freedomhouse.org. 3 December 2007. Retrieved 14 May 2011.
  10. Election Observers Unwelcome, Spiegel Online, 16 November 2007
  11. European Group Cancels Mission to Observe Russian Election, Citing Restrictions , New York Times, 8 February 2008
  12. Schwirtz, Michael; David M. Herszenhorn (5 December 2011). "Voters Watch Polls in Russia, and Fraud Is What They See". New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  13. Migranyan, Migranik (9 December 2011). "What the Recent Russian Elections Really Mean". National Interest. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  14. "Russia's Putin and party suffer election blow". Reuters. 4 December 2011. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  15. "Intimidation of observers at odds with OSCE commitments to ensure transparent elections, ODIHR Director says | OSCE". www.osce.org. Retrieved 2015-07-17.
  16. Russian Party of Pensioners for Justice participated in the last election as part of A Just Russia https://rg.ru/2012/10/29/partii-site.html
  17. Rodina participated in the last election as part of A Just Russia https://rg.ru/2012/10/29/partii-site.html
  18. The Greens participated in the last election as part of A Just Russia "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-19. Retrieved 2015-07-08.
  19. The party did not participate in the 2011 elections because its registration was revoked from 2007 until 2012
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