Accessibility links

Breaking News

President Hails Election Landslide As Good For All Kazakhs

President Nazarbaev (center) applauds the results (epa) August 20, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Preliminary results from the August 18 national elections in Kazakhstan show that the party of President Nursultan Nazarbaev has won every seat that was being contested in the poll.

Opposition leaders say the preliminary results suggest the clock has been turned back to Soviet-era totalitarian rule. International observers have called the process flawed.

The results suggest the ruling Nur Otan party won all 98 seats being contested in the lower house of the Kazakh parliament, or Mazhilis.

The Central Election Commission said the party received 88 percent of the vote to sweep aside any opposition challenge.

Neither of the two main opposition groups -- the Social Democratic Party nor Ak Zhol -- managed to clear the 7 percent barrier to get into the legislature.

Opposition Anger

The opposition has expressed its dissatisfaction with the process.

Ualikhan Kaisarov is a prominent member of the opposition All-National Social Democratic Party.

Speaking to RFE/RL's Kazakh Service late on August 19, Kaisarov insisted his party won nearly one-fourth of the vote in some places and accused officials of undermining the election.

"We were able to get protocols from two-thirds of the 184 ballot stations in Astana," Kaisarov said. "According to [the protocols], we won 24 percent of the vote, but at the polling stations where we obviously managed to get more than 24-25 percent of the vote, they refused to give us the protocols, saying that they could be available [August 19] or [August 20] after discussions with the local government. That is ridiculous! The law says that the protocols should be given right after the elections. They got scared when the number of those who voted for us got very close to the votes given to Nur Otan."

The other major opposition party, Ak Zhol, issued a statement rejecting the preliminary results. Ak Zhol said it will "insist on a new vote count" and it appealed to President Nazarbaev "to form a commission of representatives of all political parties to check and evaluate the election returns."

But the president today described the elections as open, free, and honest. Nazarbaev was addressing a session of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan, an advisory body that represents various ethnic groups and is allowed to fill nine more seats in the Mazhilis.

The Assembly of the People went on to fill those remaining seats at today's meeting, rounding out the Mazhilis' 107 members.

Nazarbaev said the Nur Otan victory was logical, and that all Kazakh citizens stand to benefit from the election results.

View From Abroad

International observers sounded less optimistic about the prospect of a one-party parliament.

Lubomir Kopaj is the head of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights election-observer mission. His group acknowledged some progress, but Kopaj said Kazakhstan needs to make many improvements to its election process.

"I have never seen a democratic country with one political party in the parliament," Kopaj said.

OSCE observers said the Kazakh elections failed to meet international standards due to a lack of transparency during the vote count, and the relatively high threshold of 7 percent to even get into the parliament.

But the OSCE monitors called the election a step forward toward democracy.

It remains to be seen how such a mixed assessment of the vote might affect Kazakhstan's bid to take on the rotating chairmanship of the OSCE in 2009.

(with contributions from RFE/RL Kazakh Service director Merkhat Sharipzhanov and agency reports)

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

SUBSCRIBE For regular news and analysis on all five Central Asian countries by e-mail, subscribe to "RFE/RL Central Asia Report."