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Kazakhstan: Parliamentary Elections Amid Protests

The elections to the lower house of the Kazakh Parliament were held amid the protests and activists’ detentions.

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Five political parties competed for seats in Mazhilis and maslikhats: Nur Otan, the Ak Zhol Democratic Party, which represents the interests of business, the agricultural Auyl Party, the Adal Party, and former communists, People’s Party of Kazakhstan. The Nationwide Social Democratic Party refused to participate in the elections.

According to authorities, after the elections, the country’s political system will function «in a new mode». More than 10 thousand polling stations were opened in Kazakhstan and 66 – abroad.

398 observers were registered for the elections. More than half of them are from the CIS. The SCO mission, TURKPA and CSTO noted the democratic nature of the Parliamentary elections and stated that there were no serious violations. However, the independent observers noted that there were some violations.

«It was disappointing. The ballots were «counted» as expected; the observers were not allowed to watch. They did not demonstrate it to the public, did not announce which ballot was for which party, did not allow to look at the votes for Nur Otan in the largest pile. We do not take their word for it. Now, think for yourself,» says journalist and independent observer Svetlana Glushkova.


According to preliminary results, three parties crossed the required 7% electoral threshold:

  • The ruling Nur Otan Party (71,09%);
  • Ak Zhol Democratic Party (10,95%);
  • People’s Party of Kazakhstan (9,10%).

On Election Day, January 10, the protests took place in the country. The participants considered these elections illegitimate and called to boycott them.

During mass protests in Kazakhstan, about 100 representatives of the unregistered Democratic Party of Kazakhstan and the «Oyan, Qazaqstan» movement were detained.


Previously, the President of Kazakhstan KassymJomart Tokayev stated that no repressive measures would be taken against those who protest against the elections.

«I believe that protest moods exist in all countries of the world. Therefore, as for the police, they will act in strict accordance with the law,» he told reporters after voting in the Parliamentary elections (quote: TASS).

According to the Deputy Interior Minister Arystangani Zapparov, all detained persons were released from the police after preventive conversations.

According to political scientist Dosym Satpayev, the protests erupted due to dissatisfaction with the inaction of the deputies and the increased pressure and censorship before the elections.

«It is not a secret that in Kazakhstan, on the eve of the elections, the protesting segment divided into several groups. Some advocated «smart voting», calling to support any party except the ruling party. Others believed that all parties should be deleted from the ballot, since they all are pro-government. At the same time, both groups folded ballots as it was done in Belarus, to help independent observers identify the protest voice easily,» the political scientist noted.

«The power is always monolithic when it comes to its survival. Civil society must be just as monolithic, and not only during elections. Everyone should always make her/his choice according to the conscience,» added Satpayev.

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