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Kazakhstan votes in elections hailed as a step “forward” by the OSCE observers

On 18 August voters in Kazakhstan cast their ballots in early elections to Kazakhstan’s Parliament widely seen as a crucial test for the country’s fledgling democracy.

Category: Politics
Posted by: admin

The Central Electoral Commission of Kazakhstan (CEC) indicates in its preliminary report that the ruling “Nur Otan” party emerged victorious from the parliamentary elections, winning 88.05% of the vote. However, this figure will be revised after the CEC completes the counting of all election protocols.

According to the international observers missions deployed to Kazakhstan’s elections, the polls were quite positive. Elections did not meet all of international democratic standards but “welcome progress” was made, the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) said in its preliminary report issued on Sunday.

"Notwithstanding the concerns contained in the report, I believe that these elections continue to move Kazakhstan forward in its evolution towards a democratic country," said Senator Consiglio Di Nino, Special Co-Ordinator of the OSCE short-term observers and Head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly delegation.

David Wilshire, the Head of the delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said: "Building a democracy is a long and hard task. However, the people of Kazakhstan are making real progress. I am not surprised that more needs to be done but saddened that the outstanding challenges include some fundamental matters."

Ambassador Lubomir Kopaj, who heads the long-term election observation mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), stressed that the election legislation reform, which was interrupted by the early elections, needs to be resumed as soon as possible. "The authorities have demonstrated a willingness to improve the election process, but our observations show that Kazakhstan still needs to make many improvements."

“In the pre-election period, candidates enjoyed increased ability to convey their messages to voters. Candidate list registration was inclusive. The Central Election Commission worked transparently and adopted numerous decisions to regulate the election process and conducted extensive voter education. Observers enjoyed good co-operation with the authorities”, - says the OSCE report.

However, in the preliminary report on its findings the OSCE mission points out some drawbacks which need to be addressed in future: “a combination of restrictive legal provisions stands in the way of developing a pluralistic political party system and decreases accountability of elected representatives to voters. Those include a high threshold for representation in the parliament, provisions that parties choose only after the elections which candidates become members of parliament and undue limitations on the right to seek public office”.

Special issue of the News Bulletin on parliamentary elections with more features, comments and assessments by domestic and international observers will be released shortly by the Embassy of Kazakhstan.