ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Voters in Kazakhstan on Sunday went to the polls to decide on lawmakers within the decrease home of parliament, which is being reconfigured within the wake of lethal unrest that gripped the resource-rich Central Asian nation a yr in the past.
Though the electoral subject was unusually massive with two newly registered events and a whole lot of particular person candidates becoming a member of the race, turnout appeared comparatively unenthusiastic — about 54% of eligible voter solid ballots, in accordance the nationwide elections fee.
The early election got here on the fourth anniversary of the resignation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had led Kazakhstan since independence following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 and who had established immense affect.
His successor, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, was extensively anticipated to proceed Nazarbayev’s authoritarian course and even renamed the capital as Nur-Sultan in his predecessor’s honor.
However the nation’s political panorama modified markedly after a wave of violence in January 2022, when provincial protests initially sparked by a gasoline worth hike engulfed different cities, notably the industrial capital, Almaty, and have become overtly political as demonstrators shouted “Outdated man out!” in reference to the now 82-year-old Nazarbayev.
Greater than 220 individuals, largely protesters, died as police harshly put down the unrest. Amid the violence, Tokayev eliminated Nazarbayev from his highly effective put up as head of the nationwide safety council. He restored the capital’s earlier identify of Astana, and the parliament repealed a legislation granting Nazarbayev and his household immunity from prosecution.
Tokayev additionally initiated reforms to strengthen the parliament, cut back presidential powers and restrict the presidency to a single seven-year time period. Beneath the reforms, a 3rd of the decrease home of parliament’s 98 seats might be chosen in single-mandate races fairly than by celebration listing.
The ruling Amanat celebration holds the overwhelming majority of seats within the present parliament and the remainder belongs to events which are largely loyal to Amanat.
Though opinion surveys point out that Amanat will stay the biggest celebration within the new parliament, the probably last stability is unclear. Greater than 400 candidates, most of them self-nominated, competed within the single-mandate races, and the nationwide elections fee licensed two extra events to enter the proportional contest.
“We are able to solely hope that these elections will contribute to the additional consolidation of society, of democracy, and that the concept of a brand new and truthful Kazakhstan will develop with the inhabitants actually taking part on this,” Austrian Martin Sajdik, a member of the Group for Safety and Cooperation in Europe’s elections commentary mission, stated Sunday.