As expected, in the parliamentary elections in the Central Asian Republic of Kazakhstan, a major victory for the ruling party Noor Ottan is on the horizon. The election was followed by 71.9 percent polling on Sunday evening, as reported by state agency Czinform. In the last vote five years ago, Noor Otten had about 82 percent of the vote.
Furthermore, according to the report, only the Akol (Shining Path) Party and the People’s Party of Kazakhstan leap over the seven percent barrier in Parliament. Both are also considered loyal to the government. The Social Democrats boycotted the vote.
Protest against authoritarian leadership
Protests against the election took place in the metropolis Almaty. According to reports from Kazakh media, several people have been temporarily arrested. The protesters are said to have called for a boycott of the vote. President Qasim-Shomart Tokayev, casting his vote at a polling station, said: “There is a mood of protest in every country in the world.”
Dozens of activists had already been arrested in the past few weeks. Following the election of Tokayev in June 2019, protests against authoritarian leadership took place in several cities of the former Soviet republic. At that time hundreds of people were taken into police custody.
The 67-year-old Tokayev took over from long-time President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who retired after nearly 30 years in power. Nazarbayev still has many influential offices and is still considered the most powerful person in the country. In 2019, Tokayev renamed the capital Astana Nursultan in honor of his predecessor.
Nazarbayev’s daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva fled again this time. He was fired as head of the House of Lords only last spring. At times she was considered the most powerful woman in the country.
According to the Central Election Commission in Nursultan, the 63.3 percent turnout was much lower than the previous election. The first results of the count were expected on Monday night.
Observers of the Organization (Security and Cooperation) (OSCE) in Europe had already criticized the violation of democratic standards in parliamentary elections five years ago. A new OSCE report states that constitutionally protected fundamental freedoms can be restricted by changes in the law. OSCE observers never categorized elections in Kazakhstan as democratic.