Lack Of Genuine Opposition Limited Voter Choice In Kazakhstan Election: OSCE

The preparations for the presidential election in Kazakhstan were efficiently administered, but the predominant position of the incumbent and lack of genuine opposition limited voter choice, the observation mission deployed by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) concluded in a statement released Monday.

"The incumbent and his political party dominate politics, and there is a lack of a credible opposition in the country. Voters were not offered a genuine choice between political alternatives," said Cornelia Jonker, Head of the ODIHR election observation mission. She noted that there were significant restrictions to the freedom of expression, as well as to the media environment.

The involvement of government officials in the incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbayev's campaign and the location of Nur Otan offices in government buildings blurred the line between State and party. Credible reports of pressure on voters to attend rallies and vote in high numbers for the incumbent raised concerns about their ability to vote free of fear of retribution, the statement said.

The legal framework provides a technical basis for the conduct of elections, but there are undue restrictions on suffrage rights, as well as on certain fundamental freedoms. Candidacy requirements, together with the application of a language test for candidates, negatively impacted the inclusiveness of the registration process, according to the observers.

Nazarbayev was re-elected Kazakhstan's president with a landslide majority.

In the election that witnessed a record turnout of 95.11 percent, Nazarbayev won 97.7 percent of the votes.

Nazarbayev was tipped to be an easy winner as two other candidates were both seen as pro-government.

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