Kazakh parliamentary elections conclude in order
Early parliamentary elections concluded in Kazakhstan on Sunday, with a voter turnout of 75.07 percent, up from some 64 percent in the last elections in 2007.
The Kazakh Central Election Committee (CEC) said that preliminary information showed that some 6.98 million out of 9.3 million eligible voters had cast their ballots in domestic polling stations to choose their favorite parties in a new Mazhilis, or the lower house of the Kazakh parliament.
All of the 9,764 polling stations in the country opened from 07: 00 to 20:00 local time. Some 56 overseas stations also opened to Kazakh voters living in other countries.
According to Xinhua, CEC Chairperson Kuandyk Turgankulov told a press conference late Sunday that the highest turnout figure was registered in Almaty region at 92.6 percent. He confirmed that preliminary results of the elections would be published on Monday.
The seven parties contesting the elections are the ruling Nur Otan party, led by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Ak Zhol party, All National Social Democratic Party, Communist People's Party of Kazakhstan, Party of Patriots, Auyl party and Adilet party.
Under a new election law, a minimum of two parties will enter the parliament after the polls, even if the second-place party fails to pass the seven percent threshold to enter the lower house.
A total of 98 out of 107 seats in the Mazhilis will be allocated on a proportional basis, while the rest will be elected by the Assembly of the Peoples of Kazakhstan on Monday.
President Nazarbayev said on Sunday that he believed the Kazakh people "will make their choice, as always, for the country's stability and calm."
"All necessary things have been done for open and honest elections," he stressed.
According to the CEC, some 819 observers from various international organizations, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Commonwealth of the Independent States (CIS) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) had registered to monitor the elections.
Alexander Torshin, head of an observer delegation from the CIS, highly valued the Kazakh elections on Sunday, saying that the elections were "open and honest."
Another member in the CIS observer delegation Vladimir Garkun said that CIS observers did not find any serious violations in Sunday's elections.
"Observers or authorized representatives of political parties stayed at all the polling stations. They did not make any claims or complaints to our observers," he said.
Kazakh girl Baydulatova Kunsula, an 18-year-old university student and also an independent observer registered in the CEC, told Xinhua that she saw her participation in the elections as an "honor."
"It is an honor that I have the chance to witness a big event in the country," she said.
Tamara Gutova, a retiree, told Xinhua that she chose the ruling Nur Otan Party, because she "really trusts" the party.
"I'm satisfied with my life. I have a big house and enjoy good welfare," she said. "I believe the Nur Otan Party will lead Kazakhstan to a new prosperity."
A middle-aged man who identified himself only as Abildayev echoed Gutova's acclaim for the ruling party. "The party has adopted good policies and brought benefits to the people," he said.
Since its independence in 1991, Kazakhstan has become the biggest economy in Central Asia. It also enjoys the highest living standard in the region under the leadership of Nazarbayev and the ruling party.
According to the authorities, the country's 2011 per capita GDP is expected to reach 11,300 U.S. dollars, a 758-percent hike compared with 1,490 dollars in 2001.
These achievements have won much support for the president and the ruling party. In the last Kazakh elections in 2007, the Nur Otan Party won an overwhelming majority in parliamentary elections and gained 98 seats in the Majilis.
In December, pre-election surveys showed that the Nur Otan party was widely expected to keep its majority in the new Mazhilis, while Ak Zhol party, which has risen rapidly to become the second largest political party in the country by membership, is another party that may enter the lower house.
Parliamentary elections had originally been scheduled for August 2012. However, Nazarbayev dissolved the Majilis and called snap parliamentary elections in November in a bid to avoid the campaign season coinciding with a looming global economic downturn in the next year.