(Reuters) - Russia votes in a parliamentary election on Sunday that is expected to hand an overwhelming victory to President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.
Here are the main parties competing in the election:
Leader: Boris Gryzlov, speaker of lower house of parliament
Opinion poll rating: 60.1 percent
Election slogan: “For Putin! For United Russia!”
United Russia is the giant of Russian politics: it already dominates parliament, is the most popular in the opinion polls and has more cash than any other party. It received a boost when President Vladimir Putin said he would head its party list.
Rivals say United Russia benefits unfairly from its ties to the Kremlin. It has favourable coverage on Russian television while many ministers and regional governors are members.
Its manifesto is a compilation of Putin’s speeches. Analysts say Putin is using the party to drive home his popularity and ensure he keeps a central role after he steps down as president.
Leader: Gennady Zyuganov
Opinion poll rating: 7.4 percent
Election slogan: “There is such a party!”
The heir of the party that ran the Soviet Union for nearly 80 years, the Communist party is Russia’s biggest opposition force. Portraits of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin still hang in party offices. The party calls for higher pensions and wages and a greater role for the state in the economy.
It is now casting itself as the only hope to challenge a United Russia stranglehold on parliament. Its critics say the Communists are content to be in parliament without ever seriously challenging the Kremlin’s power.
Leader: Vladimir Zhirinovsky
Opinion poll rating: 7 percent
Election slogan: “Don’t lie and don’t be afraid!”
This is a fiercely nationalist group based around the theatrical antics of its leader, Vladimir Zhirinovsky. One of his pronouncements earlier this year was that the British Queen was a bandit and a criminal.
Zhirinovsky polished his anti-Western credentials by recruiting Andrei Lugovoy -- wanted by British police as a suspect in a high-profile murder -- as No. 2 on the party list.
Its voting record shows it usually backs the Kremlin.
Leader: Sergei Mironov, speaker of parliament’s upper house.
Latest opinion poll rating: 5.5 percent
Election slogan: “Trust for the sake of the future!”
This party’s main selling point had been its devoted support for Putin but lost its appeal though when he aligned himself with its pro-Kremlin rival, United Russia. Since then the party’s rating has dipped and many supporters have jumped ship.
The party proposes big increases in wages and pensions by dipping into the piggy bank Russia has built from oil revenues.
THE REST OF THE FIELD
-- Agrarian Party. The party’s slogan is “Peace and Bread for every household!” An offshoot of the Communist Party, the Agrarians want higher tariffs on food imports to protect Russian producers. Their latest poll rating is 2 percent.
-- Yabloko. Led by economist Grigory Yavlinsky, the party is an outspoken critic of what it says is the squashing of civil rights and democratic freedoms under Putin. An opinion poll this week put its support at 0.9 percent.
-- Union of Right-wing Forces. The party’s biggest backer is Anatoly Chubais, CEO of electricity utility RAO UES. It stands for liberal economic policies and civil rights. Putin has accused it of trying to resurrect the robber capitalism of the 1990s. Opinion polls predict it will win about 0.7 percent.
Editing by Charles Dick
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