Reformers Do a Bit Better in St. Petersburg
THE extreme Russian nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Vladimir Zhirinovsky has scored a big victory in the choice voters made among 13 different parties in the Dec. 12 election of the Russian parliament. That vote will determine half of the seats in the 450-seat State Duma, or lower house of the new parliament.
The reform parties are still hoping to make up some ground in the returns from the single-mandate districts that elect the other half of the parliament. But there is evidence that, as feared, divisions within the ranks of the reformist parties is yielding victory to prominent extremists.
In St. Petersburg's central district, well-known nationalist television journalist Alexander Nevzorov scored a narrow victory over his strongest reform opponent, human rights activist Yuri Vdovin.
Mr. Nevzorov, who holds views similar to those of Mr. Zhirinovsky, received 65,619 votes compared with Mr. Vdovin's 62,216.
The victory was possible, however, because another reformer, Yuri Nesterov, refused to pull out of the race in order to consolidate the pro-reform vote. Mr. Nesterov, representative of the bloc led by economist Grigory Yavlinsky, won 19,198 votes.
Overall in St. Petersburg, in contrast to national trends, the reform parties did well, taking more than half the vote, with Russia's Choice, the most popular reform party, outpolling Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party.
In another similar case, nationalist politician Sergei Baburin won a seat in the State Duma from the Siberian city of Omsk. According to Russian press reports, he received only 28 percent of the vote, 6 percent more than his closest rival from the reform parties. But the pro-reform vote was also split among three different candidates.