By most accounts, United Russia is finished.
I suppose that’s not surprising, given that it was never really expected to last even this long. Cobbled together in 2001 through the merger of the Unity and Fatherland All Russia Parties — which themselves had been cobbled together by various Kremlin factions only a few years earlier — United Russia won its first Duma elections in 2003. Prior to 2007, no other ‘Party of Power’ in Russia had survived to contest two consecutive Duma elections. It has been the dominant force in Russian politics ever since, enjoying the unfaltering support of the Kremlin.
But not any more. While Putin’s own ratings have barely been touched by five years of economic hardship, the same cannot be said for United Russia. Widely seen as the ‘Party of Swindlers and Thieves‘ — a monicker promoted by opposition leader Alexei Navalny — United Russia has scraped by on a combination of electoral manipulation and ‘administrative resource’. But the final indignity came in yesterday’s regional elections, as Kremlin-backed candidates throughout the country were forced to run as independents, to avoid the stench emanating from the ostensibly ruling party. And even that didn’t help very much.