Voting has ended in Kazakhstan’s early general election. Polls predict another big win for President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s ruling Nur Otan party. Nazarbayev’s been in power since 1989, but none of the elections held since then have been certified free and fair by observers.
The OSCE is overseeing the poll, during which oil and metals-rich Kazakhstan is using some of the latest voting methods. The election is being promoted as a benchmark of the country’s democratic credentials. Whatever the political situation, the Kazakhs have powerful friends and trading partners who appear willing to let Nazarbayev and Nur Otan run the show.
They have dominated a low-key election campaign, and although the number of members of parliament has been increased from 75 to 107, with 98 returned by proportional representation, the opposition may not win any of them. It currently holds just one seat.
The preliminary results are announced early on Sunday morning. Turnout is thought to be low, as many people expect Nur Otan to win. In the former capital, Alma Aty, only just over 16 percent of the electorate had bothered to vote just a few hours before the polls closed, against a national figure of 52 percent.