Kazakhstan holds parliamentary elections later today. The president Nursultan Nazarbayev, in power since 1989, looks set to win again with a big majority. The last election in 2004 was dominated Nazarbayev’s Nur Otan party so much so that opposition claimed just one seat in the lower house. Nazarbayev has gone to the country two-years early in a bid to cement constitutional changes he believes will bring the country greater democracy.
This vast Central Asian states economy is booming on the back of crude oil and metal exports the country’s regulated banking sector attracts emerging market investors. However Kazakhstan has never held an election judged free and fair by international observers.
The main opponents to Nazarbayev are the All-National Social Democratic Party, leader Bolat Abilov called for an end to “fraudulent elections” He is not the only one with a bone to pick with the 67-year-old ex-communist, US prosecutors have charged his former consultant James Giffen with corruption and named Nazarbayev as accepting some 44 million euros in oil company bribes, this he denies.