On 17 December 1995, Russian voters elected representatives to the Duma, the lower house of parliament. For the first time in the thousand-year history of Russia, these elections were held under law, as scheduled, and without serious fraud or falsification. Though the balloting occurred in the dead of winter, was only for one house of the parliament, did not include a presidential election, and was confused by the participation of 43 parties, nonetheless an amazing 65 percent of eligible voters turned out. In historical perspective, the conduct of this election must be seen as a positive step toward democratic consolidation in Russia. But while the process was encouraging for democracy, the results were not. Parties with questionable democratic and reformist credentials made significant gains in the Duma.