16 Jan 2012

Election in Kazakhstan

8:58 am on 16 January 2012

Kazakhstan voted on Sunday in an election that will admit a second party to parliament.

The BBC reports Kazakhstan has never held elections that were deemed free and fair by international observers.

The Nur Otan party, headed by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, won all the 107 seats in the lower house in 2007.

However, for the first time the second placed party will now be guaranteed seats in the chamber, even if it fails to reach a threshold of 7% of the vote. The Ak Zhol party is seen as the most likely runner-up.

Elections were originally planned for August 2012, but Mr Nazarbayev brought them forward by dissolving parliament in November and setting a new date.

Officially titled the Leader of the Nation, Mr Nazarbayev, 71, won a presidential election in April last year with 95.5% of the vote. He has led Kazakhstan since the Soviet era.