Duma Election - December 2003
In 2001 the United Russia Party was formed, giving the Putin administration an effective voice in the Duma; that party's triumph in the 2003 parliamentary elections enhanced Putin's position. In those elections, the failure of any reform party to exceed the 5 percent minimum diminished the already weak political voice of the reform opposition. Ensuing legislation increased the minimum to 7 percent and required parties to have at least 50,000 members and organizations in at least half of Russia's regions, further enhancing the dominance of the United Russia Party.
The Duma elections of December 2003 gave a strong plurality (222 seats) to Putin's United Russia Party, which gained three times as many votes as the second-place Communist Party of the Russian Federation. The major reform parties of the early 2000s, Yabloko and the Union of Rightist Forces, were hindered by the electoral reforms of 2005. A third reform party, the People's Democratic Union, appeared in 2006. In mid-2006, the reform parties discussed uniting into a single organization to ensure representation in the Duma. The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and Rodina (Homeland) parties have nationalist agendas that include abolition of the federal system and expulsion of immigrants. In 2005 Rodina was the fastest growing party in Russia, but it was prohibited from participating in most regional elections in 2006.
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