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Kazakhstan: The Anatomy of a Pointless Election

President Nursultan Nazarbayev (center) reacts to the announcement of preliminary parliamentary election results at the headquarters of his ruling Nur Otan party on March 21. The party secured 82.15 percent of the vote. (Photo: Kazakh Presidential Press Service)

With Kazakhstan’s meticulously staged parliamentary election now complete, only one question remains to be answered: Why?

Preliminary results published by the Central Election Commission on March 21 showed that the election had returned a parliament identical to the previous one. President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s Nur Otan party secured 82.15 percent of the vote. And only two other parties — the only ones already with seats in the Mazhilis, the lower house of parliament — overcame the 7 percent threshold.

The election was held on the eve of Nowruz, a popular holiday across Central Asia that marks the Persian New Year and celebrates renewal. The symbolism was not accidental.

In the run-up to the vote, Nazarbayev was unambiguous in his desire to see regeneration among the cadres — excluding himself and his immediate circle, that is.

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Kazakhstan: The Anatomy of a Pointless Election

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