Exit polls in Kazakhstan’s general election suggest another crushing victory for the ruling party, with three surveys giving it more than 80 percent of the vote.
The former Soviet republic’s veteran President Nazarbayev has welcomed the news, describing the vote as honest and transparent and saying the country was proving to the world it was on a democratic path.
Two other pro-regime parties with an estimated seven percent of the vote look set to win seats in parliament.
But the Social Democrats, the only party seen as reflecting real opposition, are unlikely to be represented. Speaking before the exit polls were known, their leader Amirzhan Kosanov said parliament’s image needed to be improved, so that people trusted their representatives rather than seeing them as lobbyists for oligarchs.
The Social Democrats have since accused the regime of vote-rigging and of denying their monitors access to polling stations.
No previous Kazakh election has been recognised as democratic by the OSCE, whose observers were also present. It is due to give its first impressions on Monday.
Nazarbayev’s strongest critics were barred from standing. They include one group which had denounced last month’s bloody repression of a oil workers’ protest.
The president though remains extremely popular, despite growing complaints that only an elite few benefit from Kazakhstan’s oil wealth.