Astana / AFP
Energy-rich Kazakhstanâ€™s ruling party has secured a landslide win in parliamentary polls that never threatened to trouble autocrat President Nursultan Nazarbayevâ€™s long reign, official results confirmed Monday.
According to the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) Nazarbayevâ€™s Nur Otan party won 82 percent of votes in Sundayâ€™s election and will share parliament with the pro-government Peopleâ€™s Communist Party and Ak Zhol, who each secured just over 7 percent of the vote.
The voteâ€”which saw little real opposition to Nazarbayevâ€”came as the ex-Soviet country sees its once-booming economy slump on the back of falling oil prices and an economic crisis in northern neighbour Russia, but the strongmanâ€™s grip on power appears as firm as ever.
Celebrating the victory with supporters on Monday, Nazarbayevâ€”who during the poll warned outsiders â€œnot to rushâ€ Kazakhstan towards democracy — said he was in a â€œjoyful stateâ€ following the announcement of the results.
â€œOur party has won. The 77 percent turnout is a record and 82 percent of votes received for Nur Otan â€” a record!â€ he said.
â€œWe demonstrated to the whole world open, direct voting on a competitive basis in the presence of thousands of international observers and journalists.â€
A mission headed by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is expected to deliver its verdict on the vote at 0830 GMT.
The international security body has never in the endorsed a poll held in Kazakhstan as free and fair.
Nazarbayevâ€”who maintained close ties with former master Moscowâ€”has ruled Kazakhstan virtually unopposed since before its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and the 75-year-old was elected to a new five-year term last year with 98 percent of the vote.
Sundayâ€™s early polls came after Nazarbayev brought forward the presidential vote ahead of schedule, with analysts saying he was keen to get elections over with in case the economic situation worsened.
Three other parties competing on Sunday failed to clear the seven per cent threshold to enter the parliament, including the only party claiming to represent the opposition.
Nazarbayev has not confirmed his intention to stand again when his term ends in 2020 and observers are eyeballing government appointments for any indications they might give of a potential heir emerging.