United Russia was founded under the name of Unity in 1999, and renamed after a 2001 merger with the Fatherland-All Russia party. It was set up to mobilise support for Vladimir Putin, then serving as prime minister under Boris Yeltsin, and has continued to back him loyally ever since. In return, it has benefited from his popularity, holding a majority or near-majority in the State Duma since 2003 and in most of the regional parliaments, despite a large drop in its share of the vote in the 2011 elections. In terms of ideology, the party advocates balanced policies designed to appeal to voters from both left and right, while remaining consistent with the government’s general approach – economic liberalism (a 13% flat-rate income tax), combined with continuing state ownership of strategic sectors and strong social protection. It also supports increased military spending and an assertive foreign policy.