Parliamentary Elections January 15, 2012

Parliamentary Elections January 15, 2012

Parliamentary Elections Strengthen Multiparty Democracy

On Jan. 16, Kazakhstan passed a historic milestone – elections that brought about a pluralistic Parliament in which at least three parties will be represented. The elections were calm and orderly, including in Zhanaozen.

According to preliminary results by Central Election Commission, three parties met the 7 percent threshold required to enter the Majilis, Lower House of Parliament. The three parties are Nur Otan, Ak Zhol and Communist People’s Party:

  • People’s Democratic Party “Nur Otan” - 80.74 percent;
  • Democratic Party of Kazakhstan “Ak Zhol” – 7.46 percent;
  • Communist Peoples’ Party of Kazakhstan – 7.2 percent;
  • All-National Social Democratic Party – 1.59 percent;
  • Kazakhstani Social-Democratic Party “Aul” – 1.46 percent;
  • Party of Patriots of Kazakhstan – 0.89 percent;
  • Democratic Party “Adilet” – 0.66 percent.

“At this moment, these are only preliminary results, because not all protocols of territorial election commissions have been received. Election legislation calls for two days for delivery.

As the protocols are received, we will come up with more exact data on voter turnout and election results,” said Head of Central Election Commission Kuandyk Turgankulov at a briefing.

The final results of the elections will be defined no later than Jan.22, 2012.

The people of Kazakhstan voted enthusiastically in the elections. The Central Election Commission estimated that 6,980,000 people voted or 75.07% of the total number of voters. At the previous Parliamentary elections, the overall voters’ turnout was lowers, at about 64,56 percent.  Here is the breakdown of voter turnout by city and oblast as of January 15, 2012:

  • Astana city – 53.32 percent
  • Almaty city – 41.38 percent
  • Akmola oblast – 78.01 percent
  • Aktobe oblast – 78.4 percent
  • Almaty oblast – 92.6 percent
  • Atyrau oblast – 83.55 percent
  • East-Kazakhstan oblasts – 80.21 percent
  • Zhambyl oblast – 80.83 percent
  • West-Kazakhstan oblast – 71.9 percent
  • Karagandy oblast – 75.2 percent
  • Kostanay oblast – 84.83 percent
  • Kyzylorda oblast – 80.95 percent
  • Mangystau oblast – 74.2 percent
  • Pavlodar oblast – 71 percent
  • North-Kazakhstan oblast – 80.7 percent
  • South-Kazakhstan oblast – 78.76 percent

Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry has organized voting at 56 polling stations overseas. The turnout was very high compared to the figure in Kazakhstan: 8406 of Kazakh citizens abroad or 93.55% of those included in the voters' list. At the previous parliamentary elections on Aug. 10, 2007, 3090 out of 4771 citizens living outside of the country voted or 64.7%.

The elections were open and transparent. The elections were monitored by 819 international observers. Those include 309 representatives of the OSCE/ODIHR, 262 from the CIS Observer Mission, 46 from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, 15 from the PACE, eleven from the SCO Observer Mission, nine from the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States, seven from the OIC, ten from the TURKPA, and 150 others from 29 countries. In addition, 156 foreign media representatives covered the elections.

All international organizations have made independent assessments and conclusions based on their own observation of the electoral process.

OSCE issued its Statement on Preliminary Findings and Conclusions. But even OSCE’s assessment could not ignore improvements. In particular, OSCE said: “The elections were well administered at the technical level and the observers noted legal changes aimed at ensuring representation of at least a second party in parliament, but the authorities did not provide the necessary conditions for the conduct of genuinely pluralistic elections.”

It also noted: “On Election Day, voting was assessed positively by the observers, but the counting process significantly lacked transparency and respect for procedures, with cases of fraud noted. In many cases, it was not possible for observers to determine whether voters’ choices were honestly reflected.”

The Central Election Commission continues to work with the OSCE, however it came up with a response, disagreeing with the most of OSCE Observer mission’s criticisms and conclusions.

On the subject, the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan stated that “Kazakhstan took note of the preliminary assessment and conclusion of the ODIHR/OSCE mission. At the same time, we believe the mission did not take a balanced approach to evaluating the pre-election process and the voting.”

The law enforcement agencies have made every effort to ensure transparency and compliance with the law. The Prosecutor General’s office, which is the central body to look into election related complaints, have considered all the complaints and took necessary action on all of them. According to spokesperson of the Prosecutor General’s office, “During the electoral period, including Election Day (104), the total of 536 appeals, including 64 on election to the Majilis of the Parliament and 472 on election to maslikhats, were submitted to the prosecution authorities. In general, information on violations was not confirmed in the course of corresponding verification. Cases when reports on violation were substantiated and reliable are isolated. Measures stipulated by the law have been taken on each case.”

As for the so called “violation map,” prepared and disseminated in the internet by local NGO “Ar.Ruk.Khak” headed by Bakhytzhan Toregozhina, which contained 300 messages of violation of the election law, the Prosecutor General’s office has verified 296 of them. In 281 cases, or 96%  of cases, information was not confirmed. The inspection has shown that “the site published deliberately misleading and flagrantly false signals in the overwhelming majority of cases.” The full text of the statement by the Prosecutor General’s Office can be viewed here.

Besides OSCE ODIHR, almost all of the international observers concluded that the elections were free and fair.

For instance, Elsa Papademetriou, the Head of the Delegation of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, said that “These elections proved to be a move in the right direction.”

Margarita Assenova, Independent Observer from the U.S., who visited 28 polling stations in Zhanaozen, noted “we haven’t noticed any infringements during elections. All commissions worked effectively. Of course, it is very difficult and unusual to organize elections during the emergency situation. We noticed a large number of patrols in Zhanaozen.” According to Assenova, the entry of new parties to the parliament will help further develop democracy in Kazakhstan.

Haluk Ipek, Representative of Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic Speaking countries (TURKPA) said: “We saw that there were all the conditions for fair and free expression of popular will; all the civil and political rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Kazakhstan and international commitments of the Republic have been met.”

The monitoring mission of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) stated that the parliamentary election in Kazakhstan was “open, transparent and took place in accordance with the law of the country and existing democratic norms.”

The mission of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) believes “the election of deputies of the Majilis of the Parliament were legitimate, free and open and generally met the requirements of the national law and accepted international commitments.”

Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry stated that “Kazakhstan is firmly committed to the fundamental principles of holding democratic elections. We understand that democracy in our nation is still a work in progress. Kazakhstan will continue to pursue a steady path of democratization, ensuring fundamental freedoms and human rights.” It believes that the election outcome “reflects the interests of the majority of the population and its mature civic society,” representing “another step forward for our nation: it will increase debate and the competition of ideas, strengthening our Parliament and our political system as a whole.” The full text of the Foreign Ministry’s statement can be accessed here.

Despite the unbalanced assessments from OSCE ODIHR, the outcome is clear:  Kazakhstan has made a major step forward to strengthen its multiparty and more robust democracy.