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Kazakhstan - 2015 Election

On 25 February 2015 President Nursultan Nazarbayev set April 26, 2015 as the date of early election of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The calendar dates of the presidential and parliamentary elections are both set in 2016. The Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan, a constitutional body chaired by Nazarbaev, said that Nazarbaev, 74, needed another term to steer Kazakhstan through the ongoing economic crisis. His swift re-election in a snap vote would end continued speculation about his possible successor, a question closely watched by investors in Kazakhstan.

In a nationwide address, President Nazarbayev said the presidential election had been moved in order to prevent an overlap with upcoming parliamentary elections. While some observers suggested that the early election was crucial in allowing the next President time to tackle challenges facing the country's struggling oil-dependent economy, this was be Kazakhstan's fourth consecutive early election.

The following candidates stood for the April 26 presidential election: Nursultan Nazarbayev, Nur Otan (Fatherland Party); Turgyn Syzdykov, Kazakh Communist Peoples Party (CPPK); and Abdelghazy Kussainov, Chairman of the Federation of Kazakh Unions.

Nazarbayev was re-elected to another five-year term in a vote that saw no real opposition. Nazarbayev won 97.7 percent of the vote. Two other candidates - an obscure Communist Party official and a little-known trade unionist - got 1 percent or less. The election commission said a record turnout of more than 95 percent of eligible voters went to the polls. No Kazakh election has ever been declared free and fair by international monitors.

Officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitoring mission gave a grim assessment of the weekend's elections in Kazakhstan. "Voters were not offered a genuine choice between political alternatives," Cornelia Jonker, head of the OSCE monitoring mission said, noting "significant restrictions to the freedom of expression, as well as to the media environment."

The official result of the election was that incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbayev won 97.7 percent of the vote in an election where voter turnout was reported to be more than 95 percent. Last time around, Nazarbayev swept 95.5 percent of the votes in 2011's presidential election.

This year's result gives Nazarbayev, who had been in power since 1989, his fifth consecutive five-year term leading the vast, oil-rich Central Asian nation. He began his rule as a Soviet apparatchik in 1989, serving Moscow until the breakup of the USSR in 1991.The 74-year-old, who cast his ballot in the capital Astana, was widely expected to win against the two other candidates by a large margin. He had called the presidential elections a year ahead of schedule. "The incumbent and his political party dominate politics, and there is a lack of a credible opposition in the country," the OSCE's Jonker said.

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