Exit polls have predicted that Kazakhstan’s ruling party is headed for a crushing election victory. With three parties possibly entering parliament, democratic representation looks set to broaden slightly. Kazakhstan’s ruling party looked set to celebrate a crushing election victory on Sunday after exit polls gave President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s Nur Otan party 81 percent of the vote. The poll of some 50,000 voters nationwide, conducted by Kazakh think tank Institute of Democracy, showed two other parties possibly entering parliament in the wake of Sunday’s vote.
The pro-business Ak-Zhol party and the Communist Party were predicted to narrowly surpass the necessary 7 percent threshold to secure seats in parliament, each with 7.3 percent of the vote. All 107 seats in the former Soviet republic’s lower house of parliament are currently held by the Nur Otan party. Although the election appears to have slightly broadened democratic representation in parliament’s rubber-stamp lower house, Nazarbayev’s most critical opponents were barred from running. The Ak Zhol party is also led by a former ruling party member.
Tight police control oversaw Kazakhstan’s parliamentary in the wake of last month’s deadly riots which claimed the lives of at least 16 oil workers. Voters in Manistau, where police opened fire on the striking oil workers, found themselves going to the polls in a snowstorm with black-clad security forces patrolling the streets. Nevertheless voter turnout across the oil-rich Central Asian country was high, reaching around 75 percent.