‘Kazakh poll failed to meet democratic principles’

“Notwithstanding the government’s stated ambition to strengthen Kazakhstan’s democratic processes and to conduct elections in line with international standards, the parliamentary elections still did not meet fundamental principles of democratic elections,” the observer mission said a preliminary report about Sunday’s ballot.

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The snap election was won by President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s ruling party Nur Otan with 80.74 percent of the vote, according to initial results.

The group will be joined in parliament by the pro-business Ak Zhol (Bright Path) party with 7.46 percent of the vote and the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan — a largely pro-government group that won 7.2 percent.

The elections were run under new rules assuring the second-place finisher a few seats in parliament even if it won less than the seven-percent threshold.

The mission praised Kazakhstan’s plans to gradually introduce political plurality and noted that the vote was “aimed at introducing at least a second party into the parliament.”

But the mission — which involved the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, criticised the government for barring several opposition parties and leaders from the polls.

“If Kazakhstan is serious about their stated goals of increasing the number of parties in parliament, then the country should have allowed more genuine opposition parties to participate in this election,” said the mission’s special coordinator Joao Soares.

The report added that monitors also witnessed problems with how the vote was counted and did not always have access to the information they sought.

“The counting and tabulation processes were significantly lacking in transparency and respect for procedure, with cases of electoral fraud noted,” it said.

Miklos Haraszti, the head of the Election Observation Mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, said: “This election took place in a tightly controlled environment, with serious restrictions on citizens'” electoral rights.

“Genuine pluralism does not need the orchestration we have seen.”

International observers had also condemned the conduct of April 2011 presidential election that saw Nazarbayev win more than 95 percent of the vote in a poll where even one of his rivals voted for the Kazakh strongman.