Nazarbayev wins 80% of the seats in Kazakh Parliament
Parliamentary elections were held in Kazakhstan on January 16. The Nur Otan Party from President Nursultan Nazarbayev held all the seats in parliament but now has to share Parliament with two other parties. Nur Otan still managed to clinch more than 80% of the votes. Nazarbayev has been President since 1990 and brought stability and growth but also corruption and suppression of the opposition to Kazakhstan.
The Ak Zhol and the Communits Party each managed to win more then the 7% threshold set under new election law to win seats. Kazakhstan claims to be the most stable country in Central Asia staying away from civil unrest and government oppression. The country has seen growing unrest in 2011 however with demonstrations by the opposition, clashes between oil strikers and riot police in Zhanaozen and bomb attacks by Islamic terrorists.
Nazarbayev has been ruling Kazakhstan since the Soviet Union
Nazarbayev was the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Kazakh SSR in 1990 when the Soviet Union collapsed an Kazakhstan became an independent country. He won the Presidential elections for the new nation as only candidate and has been in power ever since. Nazarbayev declared that Kazakhstan had no ambition to be a nuclear power and disposed of all the Soviet nuclear weapons that were stockpiled in Kazakhstan winning him a lot of international sympathy.
Nazarbayev preached religious and ethnic tolerance with great success as we experienced ourselves during our visit to Kazakhstan. People from different religions and ethnic backgrounds live together in harmony. Kazakhstan has large revenues from its vast oil and gas reserves making it a very rich country. Nazarbayev invested a lot of the country’s oil money in the new capital Astana, doing so supporting the economy.
Democracy in Kazakhstan, however, is by no means on western standard. The press is controlled by the government, opposition figures are harassed by the police and propaganda can be seen every Kazakh city. There is also wide spread corruption, often with Nazarbayev’s family or clan members becoming extremely rich. Nursultan Nazarbayev has managed to bring stability to Kazakhstan but it seems unclear how long he can hang on to power before the Kazakh people will demand an end to his corruption and more personal freedom.