President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev’s governing party won every seat being contested in Kazakhstan’s weekend parliamentary elections. The opposition has rejected the results, saying they were manipulated; international observers, including the US, have criticized the results and deemed the vote flawed.
Gonzalo Gallegos, a spokesman for the US State Department said Sunday’s election fell short of international standards.
President Nazarbayev’s Nur Otan (Light of the Fatherland) party received 88% of Saturday’s vote, and no other party cleared the 7% barrier needed to win a seat in the Parliament’s lower house.
Nazarbayev has ruled the oil-rich country since 1989, when it was still a Soviet republic. He had pledged the elections would be free and fair. These parliamentary elections were called two years early because of Nazarbayev’s intent to strengthen the Parliament and expand the country’s political spectrum. This move was widely seen as a maneuver by him to try to improve Kazakhstan’s democratic image while maintaining his grip on power. Critics say the 7% barrier for representation in Parliament is too high for a country where most political parties are in early stages.
Senator Consiglio Di Nino of Canada has said that notwithstanding the concerns, he believes that the elections continue to move Kazakhstan forward in its evolution towards a democratic country.
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