After a quiet campaign, voters in Kazakhstan will cast ballots in a snap presidential election on April 3. The outcome is not in doubt: the incumbent, Nursultan Nazarbayev, is expected to coast to victory. Just about the only elements of uncertainty concern turnout on electionday and Nazarbayev’s margin of victory.
Nazarbayev is running against three also-ran candidates on April 3 with none of the challengers seeming likely to break into the double digits, in terms of the percentage of the presidential vote. Local analysts are now focusing on the final tally, wondering if Nazarbayev will top the 91 percent of the vote that he won in 2005.
Some of the president’s sharpest domestic critics, including a few leaders of prominent opposition movements, are calling for voters to boycott the poll, hoping that a less-than-stellar turnout might deny the 70-year-old Nazarbayev the broad electoral mandate that he desires as he moves into his third decade at the helm of independent Kazakhstan.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.