Record numbers turn out for Kazakhstan parliamentary elections

Kazakhstan headed to the polls Sunday for snap parliamentary elections, with the electoral commission noting that turnout reached an all-time high.

Preliminary results showed that 77.1 per cent of registered voters cast their ballot.

"That is a record level for the election of parliamentary representatives," Kuandyk Turgankulov, chairman of the electoral commission, told Russian news agency Interfax.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who announced the elections in January, is likely to further consolidate power, even as the economy tumbles alongside the price of the country's major export - oil.

The polls were "a milestone in the ... history of Kazakhstan," Nazarbayev said Sunday as he cast his ballot, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

"We shall elect the parliament which our country needs," he added. "Great changes are happening in the world, and Kazakhstan should comply with them."

The elections were originally planned for next year.

Nazarbayev's Nur Otan party doesn't face competition for the 107-seat Mazhilis, or lower house of parliament. Results are expected on Monday.

The 75-year-old has been at the helm of the country for 25 years, extending his reign in April 2015 when he won another presidential election.

He insisted Sunday that following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan had achieved "colossal success in the economy," TASS reported.

The former Soviet republic in Central Asia is rich in natural resources, but its economy and national currency have borne the burden of plummeting prices for oil.

International observers have never considered an election in Kazakhstan to be free and fair.

Last update: Sun, 20/03/2016 - 22:04
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