Parliamentary elections are held in Kazakhstan, which will strengthen Tokayev’s power
ALMA-ATA, March 19 (Reuters) – Kazakhstan votes on Sunday in early parliamentary elections that observers say will create a lower house of parliament that will obey President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and strengthen the incumbent’s power.
Tokayev came to power in 2019 after the abrupt resignation of Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had led the Central Asian nation for more than three decades.
The early elections are aimed at maintaining political stability in the face of global turmoil and after last year’s political unrest, the bloodiest in the country’s history.
Kazakhstan’s parliament was last elected in 2021, and a significant proportion of seats are now held by deputies from the pro-government Amanat party, formerly Nur-Otan, previously led by Nazarbayev.
There have been no real opposition parties in parliament for decades. According to Tokayev, party registration requirements have been relaxed, but the parliament is likely to remain pro-government, political analysts say.
“I voted against everything. What did they do? What for? There are no new deputies and there will be no…” Yermek, 52, told Reuters after voting at a polling station in Almaty.
In parliamentary elections, 30% of deputies are elected in single-seat constituencies, while the remaining 70% are nominated from party lists. Tokayev left Amanat last year and said he would not interfere in party politics.
The opposition in Kazakhstan is actually divided, it is not represented by one party, and the opponents of the current government are running as candidates themselves.
In Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city and usually the one with the most support for the opposition, Sunday morning’s vote showed the lowest turnout in the country.
“We keep complaining that nothing changes in our country, and we ourselves do not participate in the political life of the country. Going out and voting is one of the few things we can do to see change. Stop being passive,” said Yevgenya, a 36-year-old marketer who declined to give her name or say who she voted for.
Tokayev, who voted earlier in Astana, said holding parliamentary elections would allow him to continue his plan to reform the country and ensure a more equitable distribution of oil wealth. (Maria Gordeeva)