At least one new party will enter Kazakhstan’s parliament after an election that offered a small concession to democracy following deadly riots by oil workers which shook the country’s stable image built up by President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Exit polls after Sunday’s election in the vast Central Asian state put the long-serving leader’s Nur Otan party on course to win by a landslide. But they also suggested two other parties broadly sympathetic to the government, the pro-business Ak Zhol and the Communist People’s Party, could enter the lower house.
At least one of them will have seats because for the first time the second-placed party will be guaranteed representation, regardless of whether it clears the 7 percent threshold for entering the assembly. Nur Otan currently has all the seats.
Nazarbayev, 71, hailed his party’s expected victory as a sign of national unity one month after at least 16 people were killed in clashes between protesters and police in the oil town of Zhanaozen in western Kazakhstan. “The events in Zhanaozen have united us more,” Nazarbayev told members of his Nur Otan party at their headquarters. “This speaks volumes for the cohesion of Kazakhstanis and their desire to preserve stability.”