The United Russia party led by President Vladimir Putin experienced an overwhelming victory in Sunday's parliamentary elections, adding up odds for Putin's strive to keep the development path he drew for the nation.
Preliminary results from the Central Elections Commission showed that the United Russia, topping the 11 parties in the race, won some 63 percent of the nearly half counted votes in the elections for the 450 seats in State Duma, the lower house of parliament.
President Putin made no public speech in the first hours following the end of voting at 1800 GMT. However, leader of United Russia and State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov said the head of state had expressed congratulations.
"Putin congratulated the United Russia on the victory and thanked the State Duma members for their work in the past four years. He said this work is efficient," Gryzlov said.
"In fact, the United Russia owes the large support it has gained to Vladimir Putin," he said, labeling the elections an endorsement for Putin, who has pledged to step down after next March's presidential election due to constitutional ban on a third consecutive term.
Putin's popularity, thanks to booming economy fueled by flourishing oil revenues, has played a key role in the elections.
"Why did I vote for the United Russia? Because I support President Putin, of course," said a college student who only named herself as Natalya and was also one of the first voters at a polling station in Moscow.
Putin, who refused to be a party member but led the United Russia in the run-on, called on the 108 million eligible voters to cast their ballots for the party, saying the elections will set tune for next March's presidential election.
Of the other three parties, which have also crossed the 7 percent threshold to enter the 450-seat State Duma, there is only one opposition, the Communist Party, which gained some 11 percent votes in initial counting and threatened to challenge the results.
The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) and the Fair Russia, however, made no complaint of the elections after they have won enough to enter the lower house according to initial results of the voting, which has recorded more than 60 percent of turnout, a new high in many years.
"At any rate, we are already happy that it is more than 7 percent, and we were sure it would be like that," LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said in an interview with national television Channel 1.
The final result was expected to be published on Dec.7 or 8, said Vladimir Churov, chairman of the Central Elections Commission.
The United Russia, given it forms constitutional majority, may grasp 306 of the 450 seats in the State Duma on the basis of ballots it gets, Russia's Public Opinion Study Center Chairman Leonid Davydov said.
The Communist Party may get 57 seats, the LDPR 45, and the Fair Russia party 42, he said.