Exit polls in Kazakhstan have provided a preliminary confirmation of widely expected results in the March 20 parliamentary elections, showing the ruling Nur Otan party winning around 82 percent of the vote.
The head of the Astana-based Democracy Institute, Yulia Kuchinskaya, said her organization’s date showed another two parties just passing the 7 percent threshold for entering parliament: the business-aligned Ak Zhol (7.22 percent) and the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan (7.17 percent).
Displaying more than modicum of partiality, Kuchinskaya was effusive in Nur Otan’s praise.
“In this way, as shown by the exit poll, it is possible to say that the citizens have made the decision, again, to confirm their desire to continue the course of modernization,” she said in remarks quoted by Informburo.kz.
If those figures are confirmed, it would mean the seats in the incoming Mazhilis, the lower house of parliament, would be distributed in almost the identical proportion as the outgoing convocation.
Kuchinskaya said her group conducted interviews at 750 polling stations with voters in all the country’s 14 regions and in the cities of Astana and Almaty. Around 75,000 out of the country’s 9.7 million registered voters were questioned.
Another exit, run by an equally pop-up organization, called Media-Consul, showed similar results: Nur Otan with 81.95 percent, Ak Zhol with 7.24 percent and Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan with 7.22.
The stated sample size for this poll was significantly lower, however. The group said it queried 4,050 people at 225 polling stations located all over Kazakhstan
Other pretenders failed to come even close to getting a foot in parliament. The Democracy Institute poll showed the one vaguely opposition-oriented option, the Social Democratic Party of Kazakhstan, managing only 1.21 percent of the vote. Ali Bektayev’s Auyl (Village) People’s Patriotic Party, whose brand and scant campaigning material indicate its positioning toward the rural vote, garnered 2.05 percent, according to the exit poll.
Although it is early days, there are already interesting comparisons to be drawn with the definitive results of the 2012 parliamentary election.
On that occasion, Nur Otan managed 81 percent of the vote, followed by Ak Zhol on 7.5 percent and Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan on 7.2 percent.
The immutability of these parties’ electoral fortunes certainly lends a new meaning to the concept of stability.
And it isn’t just the results that are unerringly similar.
The Central Elections Commission said that its preliminary data showed a 77.1 percent nationwide turnout. The figure in 2012 was 75.44 percent.
Again, a striking outcome. Despite voters being offered an identical choice of parties as in 2012, the remarkably low-visibility campaign season and widespread anecdotal evidence of disaffection fueled by economic decline, more people actually decided it was worth casting their ballot.
As per tradition, the lowest turnout was in the city of Almaty, which registered a 34.1 percent turnout. And yet the area surrounding the city, Almaty region, saw the greatest turnout, with 94 percent of registered voters casting their ballot.
Election officials could not contain their satisfaction.
“We note the high level of engagement among voters during today’s vote. This is a record figure for the last last few elections for deputies to the Mazhilis,” the head of the election commission, Kuandyk Turgankulov, said in a statement.