Russian analyst forecasts Duma elections turnout

The turnout at the December 7 elections to the State Duma, parliament's lower house, will be rather heavy. Over 60% of voters will go to polling stations, Vyacheslav Nikonov, President of the Politika foundation, forecast when he addressed a press conference at RIA Novosti news agency.

Mr Nikonov said the current election campaign was "swift-passing and short-distance" thanks to the new election law.

"Major changes have taken place. United Russia has outpaced the Communist Party dramatically, the latter is being left further behind," said the analyst.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) has preserved its rating above the 5% threshold. The Union of Right Forces (SPS) has got more popular, while Yabloko party remains at the same level also above 5%, according to Mr Nikonov.

He noted the growing popularity of Homeland election bloc led by Sergei Glazyev and Dmitry Rogozin. "It is coming in energetically, approaching the desired threshold." Mr Nikonov said the growing popularity of United Russia was not surprising. "The merger of Unity and Fatherland-All Russia parties resulted in combined popularity," he said.

United Russia will secure the support of one third of voters for its party lists, predicted the expert.

The Communists have included oligarchs in their party lists, something Mr Nikonov described as one of the mistakes they had made. The party has thereby tarnished its image of the protector of the disadvantaged, he said.

The analyst surmised the Communists would not win more than 20% of votes.

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