Landslide election win in Kazakhstan

  • 21/03/2016
President Nazarbayev casts his vote in Kazakhstan election
President Nazarbayev casts his vote in Kazakhstan election

President Nursultan Nazarbayev's Nur Otan party has won a landslide in a snap parliamentary election in Kazakhstan by capturing 82% of the vote, according to an exit poll.

The poll by local group Democracy Institute showed two other parties, the Communists and Ak Zhol, had on Sunday passed the 7% threshold needed to win seats, meaning that the lower house, the Mazhilis, will include the same three parties as before.

Three other parties, the Social Democrats, Birlik (Unity) and Auyl (Village), won less than 7% each.

Shortly after the announcement, Nazarbayev, 75, congratulated his party on winning the support of the "overwhelming majority" of voters, his office said in a statement.

Such results are unlikely to surprise anyone in the oil-rich Central Asian nation Nazarbayev has run since 1989, brooking little dissent, and which has never held an election judged free and fair by Western observers.

Harder to predict is the makeup of Nur Otan's faction, as it has 127 candidates vying for places in the 107-seat Mazhilis.

Observers are focusing, in particular, on the president's daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva, who is deputy prime minister and also on the party list as a candidate.

Her potential move to parliament, where she could become the speaker of the lower house, would be interpreted as a step towards an eventual transition of power to her.

Nazarbayev called the vote in January, apparently favouring an early election in case the economy, hit hard by the slump in the price of oil, were to worsen in the course of the year.

He said on Sunday that his government was considering a constitutional reform that would give the parliament greater powers, but gave no timeframe for that.

Nazarbayev also indicated that Sunday's vote, which will automatically trigger a vote of confidence in the government when the new lower house convenes, was unlikely to result in a major reshuffle of ministers.

The former Soviet republic's Central Election Commission said it would announce preliminary results of the vote later on Monday. It said 77.1 per cent of Kazakhstan's 9.8 million registered voters had turned up at polling stations.

Observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will also present their report on Monday.

Another group of observers posted a video online showing a man openly dropping several ballots into the box at a station in Almaty.