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Kazakh ruling party wins snap parliamentary polls - The Hindu

Written By Ivan Kolev on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 | 3:50 AM

Nursultan Nazarbayev's Nur Otan gets 80.74% of the vote

Kazakhstan's ruling party has swept snap parliamentary elections, but two other parties won seats for the first time.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev's party, Nur Otan, won 80.74 per cent of the vote, according to preliminary results announced on Monday. Two other nominally Opposition parties scraped past the 7 per cent threshold — the pro-business Ak Zhol, headed by a former functionary of the ruling party, and the Communist People's Party of Kazakhstan, a splinter from the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, which was suspended for six months in October for violating the law on public organisations.

After winning re-election with over 95 per cent of the votes last year, Mr. Nazarbayev ordered early elections to Parliament in order to improve his democratic credentials with the West. Mr. Nazarbayev, who has ruled Kazakhstan since 1990, has been criticised for having a one-party Parliament (in the 2007 elections Nur Otan won 88 per cent and no other party won seats). Under a 2009 law if only one party wins parliamentary seats, the next runner-up will get at least two seats.

Out of seven parties contesting the poll, four, including the fiercely Opposition All-National Social Democratic Party (OSDP), failed to win seats. Many Opposition candidates had been disqualified from the election and several parties had been denied registration.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which monitored the vote, praised competent administration of the election but said the vote counting was not transparent.

As a result, in many instances, it was not possible for observers to determine whether voters' choices were honestly reflected, the OSCE said noting that its observers detected at least a dozen cases of ballot-box stuffing.

However, monitors from the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) said the vote was transparent, competitive and free.

It was important for Mr. Nazarbayev that the election was peaceful and orderly in the town of Zhanaozen, where armed clashes occurred between striking oil workers and security forces in December in which 16 people were killed.

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