`Russians to cut Putin`s party majority in vote`

Levada-Center said Vladimir Putin`s United Russia party would win about 252-253 places in the 450-seat lower house of Parliament.

Last Updated: Nov 25, 2011, 15:31 PM IST

Moscow: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin`s ruling party is likely to get a far smaller majority in Parliament at the December 04 election, the country`s biggest independent pollster predicted on Friday.

Based on its last major opinion poll before the election, Levada-Center said Putin`s United Russia party would win about 252-253 places in the 450-seat lower house of Parliament, down from 315 it has now.

Levada-Center director Lev Gudkov said Russian voters perceived United Russia, which is being led into the election by President Dmitry Medvedev, as dominant but devoid of policy.

"United Russia is conducting quite a weak electoral campaign," Gudkov told reporters in Moscow. "It doesn`t really have much of a program."

Putin, who is almost certain to win a March presidential election, has hinted a poor showing by United Russia could affect his plan to appoint Medvedev as prime minister in a job swap.

"Putin will easily win in the first round because the political field is managed and opponents have been sidelined," Gudkov said of the Presidential Election, which the upper house of Parliament said on Friday would take place on March 04.

The Levada pollster predicted the Communist Party would come second in the Parliamentary Election with about 94 seats, followed by the nationalist LDPR party winning 59 seats and the Just Russia party with 44 seats.

Bureau Report