Early parliamentary elections are underway in Kazakhstan. In Sunday’s vote, citizens can vote for independent candidates for the first time. The electoral threshold has also decreased. “The system has changed and seems democratic. But in reality the president and his administration hold the counting of votes in their hands,” said Dimash Aljanov, a Kazakh political scientist.
Early elections to the Majilis, or the lower house of parliament, are held as a result of the president’s decision Kazakhstan Kasym-Zomart Tokayev of January 19, who dissolved the chamber and set the date of the vote for March 19.
In accordance with the changes introduced by the president, who declares his desire to liberalize the political system in his country, the electoral threshold has been lowered from 7 to 5 percent, and the registration of new political parties has also been facilitated.
Elections different from the previous ones
In the previous term, only three parties were represented in Majilis, and all of them supported President Tokayev – the ruling Amanat party, the Ak Zhol Democratic Party of Kazakhstan and the People’s Party of Kazakhstan.
This time, seven registered parties will be able to introduce representatives to parliament. The pro-environmental Baitak party, the free-market Respublica, the National Social Democratic Party and the agrarian party Auyl will also compete for seats. Candidates who are not affiliated with any party can also present themselves for the first time.
“The electoral system has changed and seems democratic. But in reality, the president and his administration hold the counting of votes in their hands,” the AFP agency quotes Kazakh political scientist Dimash Alyanov. “In an authoritarian country, elections are held to maintain power, not to replace it,” he adds.
Polling stations will be open until 20.00 local time (15.00 Polish time). 12 million people are entitled to vote.
Main photo source: Reuters