Early parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan ended
A year after brutally suppressed protests, Kazakhstan’s President Tokayev wants to demonstrate democratic progress in early parliamentary elections. Critics don’t buy that.
In Central Asian Kazakhstan, the early parliamentary elections passed without major incidents. A little more than half of the approximately twelve million voters exercised their right to vote in the ex-Soviet republic bordering on Russia and China. The Central Electoral Commission provisionally gave the value as 54.19 percent. The announcement of the first results was not expected until Monday.
Authoritarian President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered the new elections in response to bloody protests last year. Contrary to his promises of reform, critics accuse the 69-year-old of primarily wanting to consolidate his own power because hardly any real opposition candidates were admitted. Kazakhstan’s long-term ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev, who continues to be influential and who Tokayev has been increasingly disempowering recently, also cast his vote in the capital Astana.
OSCE sees deficiencies in freedom of the press and freedom of expression
For the first time, all 98 members of the Kazakh lower house (maschilis) were directly elected by the people. International observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) praised this as progress. However, they also referred to complaints from the Kazakh opposition and to the lack of freedom of the press and freedom of expression in the oil-rich country with 19 million inhabitants.
In January 2022, protests against high prices and social injustice in Kazakhstan had turned into an unprecedented power struggle between national elites. Tokayev emerged victorious against the camp of his former foster father, Nazarbayev. With the help of Russian troops, the Kazakh security forces often acted extremely brutally against demonstrators on his orders. A total of more than 200 people were killed.