03/21/2016, 17.06
KAZAKHSTAN
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Nazarbayev's party wins a landslide but contested victory in parliamentary elections

The Nur Otan party wins 82.15 per cent of the vote. It will rule with its Communist and Ak Zhol allies. OSCE observers have questioned the vote. The election was held early just in case the economy were to worsen. At present, some growth is taking place. The president's designated heir, his daughter, could become the speaker of the lower house.

Astana (AsiaNews/Agencies) – President Nursultan Nazarbayev's Nur Otan party won 82.15 per cent of the vote in yesterday’s parliamentary election.

Communist People's Party and Ak Zhol, two parties allied with Nazarbayev, passed the 7 per cent threshold needed to win seats in the 107-seat Mazhilis, the lower house of parliament.

The opposition agrarian Auyl People’s Democratic Patriotic Party and the Nationwide Social Democratic Party failed to reach the threshold and so will not be represented.

Few experts and observers expected any other outcome with the ruling party running 127 candidates for the 107-member body in a country that has been firmly in the hands of its strongman since 1989.

Turnout reached 77.1 per cent, beating the results four years ago when 75.45 per cent of registered voters showed up at the polls.

However, observers with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) say that Kazakhstan's parliamentary elections have fallen short of its own commitments to democratic elections.

"Kazakhstan still has a long way to go towards fulfilling its election commitments, although some progress was noted," said Marietta Tidei, the OSCE special coordinator for election observation.

Speaking at a polling station, the president also hinted at giving the parliament more powers in a constitutional reform. "There could be redistribution of power between the president, the parliament and the government," Nazarbayev explained.

All eyes will be on the president's daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva, who is deputy prime minister and also on the party list as a candidate. If she leaves the government, she could become the speaker of the lower house, which would solidify her position as a potential successor to her 75-year-old father.

The election was held at time when the most recent economic outlook report forecasts some recovery of growth for Central Asia’s largest nation.

This election, like the previous two polls, was held before the end of its regular term. President Nursultan Nazarbayev dissolved the Mazhilis upon its unanimous request for early elections.

This was done just in case the economy were to worsen in the course of the year.

However, since then, the price of oil, Kazakhstan's main export, has risen from less than US$ 30 per barrel to more than US$ 40.

The Kazakh currency, the tenge, has gained more than 10 per cent over the same time.

Early elections have become an established practice to ensure the elite’s hold on power, especially the president’s. In fact, presidential elections were held last year instead of this year with the president winning 97.7 per cent of the vote.

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