Three Parties Win Seats in Kazakhstan Parliament

Posted January 16th, 2012 at 4:50 am (UTC-5)
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Three political parties will enter Kazakhstan's parliament, where every seat is currently held by the ruling party.

Election results released Monday give the pro-business Ak Zhol party and the largely pro-government Communist People's Party at least seven percent of the vote each.

Under Kazakhstan's new election law, the second-place finisher automatically gets seats. But any party that gets at least seven percent of the vote also wins seats.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev's Nur Otan party won about 80 percent of the vote.

Mr. Nazarbayev calls his party's huge win a sign of stability and support for his government.

European election monitors issued their preliminary report Monday saying the Sunday elections failed to meet basic democratic principles.

Sunday's elections were held a month after a protest by laid-off government oil workers in the town of Zhanaozen turned violent, leaving at least 15 people dead. Authorities in the town originally cancelled voting, but President Nazarbayev ordered it to be held as scheduled.

Such anti-government violence is rare in Kazakhstan, where despite a lack of free speech and human rights, the country's oil wealth has brought a higher standard of living than in most other Central Asian former Soviet states.

Mr. Nazarbayev has been Kazakhstan's only president since it gained independence in 1991.