Elections are taking place in the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan on Sunday to the Mazhilis which is the lower house of parliament, as well as the Maslikhats, the local representative bodies. 98 members of parliament are selected from nationwide party lists once they pass the 7% threshold.
The elections will be the first since the implementation of a package of political reforms designed to increase further the openness, fairness, and transparency of Kazakhstan’s electoral system.
9 are elected into the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan which is a constitutional body representing the country’s various ethnic communities. There are a total of 312 candidates standing from across five parties.
Reflecting the diversity of Kazakh society, the candidates include 90 women which is 29%, 19 people under the age of 29, and representatives from 12 ethnicities.
Candidates from five political parties registered by the Central Election Commission – Nur Otan, People’s Party of Kazakhstan, Ak Zhol Democratic Party, Auyl People’s Democratic Patriotic Party and Adal – are participating in the elections. To facilitate the voting, 10,061 polling stations are available for an electorate of 11 million voters, including 66 in Kazakhstan’s overseas missions in 53 countries.
The elections include consolidating an institute of parliamentary opposition, which provides additional guarantees for the representation of parliamentary minority parties in the governing structures of the legislation body.
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Signatures Needed And Reforms
The number of signatures needed to create a political party with the ability to contest elections has been halved. Procedures for political activism too which include holding national assemblies and rallies have been simplified.
These reforms are in line with the concept of a listening state and one that takes all views into consideration which was proposed by the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. The move was a way to imply strengthened accountability of the government to citizens.
Free and Fair Elections
To ensure transparency and fairness, 398 foreign observers will monitor the elections. The accredited persons for the election include from those 10 international organisations and 31 foreign states, representatives of political parties, hundreds of domestic and more than 100 accredited foreign media as well as domestic observers.
The exit polls data are expected at midnight Nur-Sultan time on January 11th. A press conference by the Central Election Commission on the preliminary results will take place during the following day.
The previous parliamentary election in Kazakhstan took place in March 2016. It led to the three-party Mazhilis with the ruling Nur Otan party holding a parliamentary majority.