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5 things you probably didn’t know about Kazakhstan Elections

5 things you probably didn’t know about Kazakhstan Elections
April 30 2015, 12:41

Kazakhstan’s presidential election came with no surprises on April 26. After his 25-year rule, the Central Asian country’s incumbent leader Nursultan Nazarbayev won a fifth consecutive term, with a massive 97.7 percent of the vote. Passed this quarter-century, you probably knew that Nazarbayev was expected to continue governing Kazakhstan. But, Did you know?…


About the country:

  1. The Republic of Kazakhstan, in Central Asia, is the world’s ninth-biggest country.
  2. It is a  presidential republic, with 14 territorial regions and  two major cities-districts (Almaty, financial centre and Astana, political capital).
  3. The country has a bicameral Parliament, consisting of the lower house (Majilis) with 107 seats, and the upper house (Senate) with 47 members.
  4. Its economy is larger than those of all other Central Asian states, largely due to the oil, gas, and mining sectors, but it is currently struggling because of its oil-dependence.
  5. The Financial Times notes that Kazakhstan “is the world’s largest uranium producer and holds the world’s 12th-largest oil reserves.”

About the election’s statistics:

  1. An estimated 9.5 million Kazakhstani were eligible to cast ballots in over 9,000 polling stations in the country. Check some other electoral FAQ by IFES.
  2. A record turnout of 95.22 percent was registered in the election.
  3. The Central Electoral Commission (CEC), with 69,755 commission members of all levels, administered the vote, including candidate registration and maintenance of the voter list.
  4. Nearly 20,000 citizens were expected for out-of-country voting in 65 polling stations opened at diplomatic posts around the world.
  5. The  last presidential election in Kazakhstan was  on  April  3,  2011. There  were  9,200,000  registered  voters,  and Nazarbayev  won 7,850,958 votes (95.55%).

About the re-elected government:

  1. Kazakhstani citizens went to the polls to vote -once more- for the head of state that has been in office since 1991, when the country gained independence from the Soviet Union.
  2. Constitutional amendments of May 2007 shortened the presidential term from seven to five years and established a two-consecutive-term limit.
  3. Nazarbayev, as the “First President of Kazakhstan”, is allowed unlimited terms in office (which applies only  to him).
  4. President Nazarbayev announced in February that an early presidential election will be held in April, “to avoid an overlap with the parliamentary polls,” both scheduled for 2016.
  5. The 74-year-old president faces challenges such as falling oil prices, recession in Russia and the threat of Islamic extremism.

About the detractors:

  1. The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Europe criticized the election, noting that “voters had only limited choice due to a lack of genuine opposition and restrictions on freedom of expression.”
  2. Kazakhstan is rated by Freedom House as a “consolidated authoritarian regime” with a democracy score of 6.57 (on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being the worst).
  3. Opposition parties did not field a candidate. The only two other contenders, figures widely seen as pro-government, scored less than 3% between them.
  4. Nazarbayev’s victory over his two nominal rivals, a trade union official and a communist politician, has been seen as a formality. The BBC, The Guardian and  The Diplomat reports supported this argument.
  5. Rights activists have expressed that the president’s colossal support is “the result of ignorance and propaganda” reinforced by suppressions on the press and the Internet.

Categories: Asia, Elections, In the news

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