In a word, no. Whatever losses United Russia suffered in the Duma, or lower house of parliament, will mean little in a country heavily dominated by the executive. The Duma is largely a rubber-stamping organization, with most political power residing in the Kremlin.
While it is remarkable that United Russia may barely receive 50% of the vote, when just four years ago is nearly received two-thirds, the disruption to the political status quo in the country will be negligible. The parties set to pick up seats are the following, in order: The Communist Party (I thought they were banned? – sarcasm) 19.2%; A Just Russia aka A Fair Russia (a social-democratic aka socialist party) 13.2%; and the lonely Liberal Democratic Party at just 11.7%.
This effectively means that just about one out of ten Russians is opposed to the decaying socialist authoritarian state, which seems about right by my reckoning.
Current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will most certainly win his election on March 4th, 2012. His modern day popularity, though somewhat declining, is probably second only to Joseph Stalin’s. Russian grandmas or babas all over the country adore both, and due to the bad taste left in many people’s mouths by the turbulent 1990s, this will be the case for generations to come.
News outlets like Reuters can choose to spin the Russian parliamentary election results however they like, with their typical sensationalizing of events and social democratic biases, but there’s not a kopek’s bit of difference between the Communist Party, the (Socialist) Just Party, and United Russia. These parties are all means to the same goal – state domination of economy and society.
By next spring, Vlad the Derailer will be back, there will be little doubt who is in control of the country, and the one percent concerned about the direction of the country will go back to its vodka-induced sleep.