Parliament elections begin in Kazakhstan
Published: Jan 10, 2021 06:33 PM

The 2017 Expo site in Nur-Sultan Photo: Li Qian/GT

Voters headed to parliamentary polls in Kazakhstan on Sunday, with the ruling party expected to score a big win.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, 67, had pledged gradual political reform in the Central Asian nation since being eased into his post by Nursultan Nazarbayev, who called time on nearly three decades as head of state in early 2019. 

But 80-year-old Nazarbayev retains powerful positions, including the chairmanship of the Nur Otan party that controls the lower house and boasts 800,000 members among a population of 19 million.

The party is expected to win a commanding majority in the lower house polls featuring four other competing parties. 

 In an attempt to modernize the system without relinquishing his party's tight grip on power, Tokayev has overseen the introduction of quotas for women and under-29s in political parties' candidate lists.

"[Further] reforms are being prepared," Tokayev told reporters after casting his ballot in the capital city of Nur-Sultan. "Reforms must not stop."

The most notable candidate on the ballot is Nazarbayev's eldest daughter, 57-year-old Dariga Nazarbayeva, who is representing Nur Otan.

Her return to politics comes just eight months after Tokayev fired her from the position of senate speaker. 

The World Bank has estimated Kazakhstan's economy shrank 2.5 percent in 2020 as it grappled with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Polls opened at 7 am and close at 8 pm with a state-endorsed exit poll expected later Sunday night.
blog comments powered by Disqus