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Kazakhstan seems to have more open legislative elections

Kazakhstan is voting Sunday in early legislative elections that could see independent candidates elected as deputies, a sign of a timid democratic opening despite staunch authoritarian reflexes in Central Asia’s largest country. million voters have until 20:00 local time to vote. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev came to the polls early, around 08:00 (parliament of 98 elected deputies) was reduced to 5% and a 30% quota for women, youth and people with disabilities was introduced. These changes have somewhat revived the ankylosed political landscape of this former republic, bordering Russia and China, still marked by the deadly riots of January 2022. Under the previous legislature, only three parties were represented. Everyone supported President Tokayev, who was easily re-elected in November with over 80% of the vote in a vote with no real competition. “The electoral system has changed and gives the impression of a choice. But in reality, the president and his administration are keeping aloof. They count the votes with their hands,” political analyst Dimach Alianov tempers for AFP. to retain power, not replace it,” said Mr. Alyanov. These elections, which also concern local parliaments, follow the 2022 constitutional reform led by Mr. Tokayev, who has been in power since 2019. The 69-year-old the leader demonstrates his desire to “continue the modernization” started last year of this country rich in natural resources, because severe inequality and corruption have not disappeared, and inflation above 20% is eating away at purchasing power.Tokayev also broke with his mentor and predecessor, the all-powerful Nursultan Nazarbayev in power for three decades after the January 2022 riots. These anti-priority demonstrations set the country on fire, and their the repression officially killed 238 people. After a sluggish presidential campaign in November, Almaty, one of the country’s two main cities, seemed timidly awake for this election, which coincides with the arrival of spring in this city nestled at the foot of majestic mountains. there were not so many applicants,” retired professor Ernest Serikov told AFP. For this 81-year-old man who calls himself a communist and supports the president, this election is “experimental” – “New Faces” – Campaign posters have bloomed anarchically on restaurant windows, building fences or lampposts. And often abstruse slogans such as “order is where the truth is”, “there is no mess with me” or even “I do not leave the people” accompany obscure programs. There are seven parties in total. elections, including two new ones registered in a short time. But some opposition parties and independent candidates remain banned, but such an abundance of candidates, with more than two elections held on the same day, may confuse some. Many voters didn’t make their choice when they went to the polls: “I know very few independent candidates, but I’m glad to see new faces. The main thing is for the parliament to be renewed,” hopes 37-year-old Alicher Akhmetov. an old engineer living in Astana. Political scientist Andrey Chebotarev believes that “following the results of these elections, four or five parties should be represented in the parliament.” This is beneficial to the authorities, because. parties loyal (to the president) will be present in parliament and Amanat, the presidential party, will retain the majority of seats,” he told AFP. “On the other hand, the diversity of parties will affect the recognition of the election results both by the population and at the international level. “concludes Mr. Chebotarev. Despite such relative openness, Mr. Tokayev has already warned that “those who sow discord in the country will be severely punished.”dr-bk/bur/juf

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