The results of Kazakhstan’s lackluster parliamentary elections are in and they show that three parties will have seats in the Mazhilis, the lower house of parliament. The ruling Nur-Otan party took nearly 81 percent of the vote; Ak Zhol, 7.47 percent; and the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan, 7.19 percent. Wait a minute. My mistake. I am so sorry. Those are the results from the 2012 parliamentary elections. The results of the March 20, 2016, parliamentary elections show, too, that three parties will have seats in the Mazhilis. Nur-Otan got 82.15 percent of the vote; Ak Zhol, 7.18 percent; and the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan took 7.14 percent. Not sure how I could have confused the two polls.
But no biggie — after spending the equivalent of some $10.7 million preparing for these latest elections, which authorities said were critical for Kazakhstan to combat the effects of the country’s worst economic downturn in some 20 years, the composition of parliament is essentially the same as that of the previous Mazhilis.
Officially, 77.1 percent of voters cast ballots in the March 20 poll, though reports and photographs from polling stations around Kazakhstan seemed to indicate little interest on the part of the electorate.
The Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) provided its preliminary assessment on March 21, which cited an absence of real political choice for voters and an absence of diversity. While ODIHR monitors did notice some progress, the preliminary assessment said: “It is clear that Kazakhstan still has a long way to go towards fulfilling its election commitments….” And remember, Kazakhstan held the OSCE rotating chairmanship in 2010.