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Two parties to be represented in Kazakh parlmnt after elections

November 16, 2011, 14:45 UTC+3

“Undoubtedly, two parties - Nur Otan and Ak Zhol will be represented in the parliament on the election results", Yertysbayev said

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ASTANA, November 16 (Itar-Tass) — According to the results of early parliamentary elections scheduled for January 15, 2012, only two political parties will be represented in the lower house (Majilis) of the parliament of Kazakhstan, the Kazakh president’s adviser Yermukhamet Yertysbayev has said. “Undoubtedly, two parties - Nur Otan and Ak Zhol will be represented in the parliament on the election results", he told Itar-Tass in an interview.

In his view, there are “virtually no chances that some third party will manage to enter the parliament. “The 7-percent electoral barrier is very high, and a party that will be based on the protest electorate will be very difficult to go there,” Yertysbayev said.

His prediction is based on the fact that there is a “break-up of the protest electorate.” “Some may vote for the Azat United Social Democratic Party, others - for the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan, and third - for the Rukhaniyat party.” “As a result, there is fragmentation, because of which these parties will win 3-5 percent of the vote and will not be able to get into parliament,” the adviser said.

He expressed regret in this connection that that the parties did not heed his advice to unite. “Now they are too late with this. I kept saying to them about it two or three years ago, also this year. But no unification happened because of the low political culture and the excessive ambitions of the leaders of these parties,” Yertysbayev said.

However, he noted “the silence of some parties.” “What surprises me is actually a two-week silence of the Azat party.” They have not made any statements whatsoever and it is unclear whether they will run in elections at all. I think the basis for this behavior is pessimism and disbelief in their own strength,” concluded Yertysbayev.

Back in July 2007, President Nazarbayev expressed support for the two-party system. “It would be most ideal if there were two strong parties, like in America, which would offer their programs to the people. And which one gets the preference of the people it would come to power. And the country would develop steadily, without shocks,” the head of the state said.

However, at the August 18, 2007 elections, no political parties, except the Nur Otan party, which won all 98 seats by party lists, managed to overcome the 7-percent barrier.

In accordance with amendments introduced to the electoral legislation, after the current early elections, Majilis will not be able to be a one-party parliament. If the party that comes second fails to get 7 percent of the vote, it will be admitted to the distribution of deputy mandates.

According to the Kazakh Constitution, the Majilis consists of 107 deputies, 98 of whom are elected based on universal suffrage on party lists and nine are elected by the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan’s president issued a decree Wednesday to dissolve parliament and call a snap election that will end the governing party's monopolistic grip over the legislature, The Associated Press reported. Under a new election law, a minimum of two parties will enter parliament after the Jan. 15 polls, although no robust anti-government forces are believed to stand any real prospect of winning seats.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev said at a government meeting Tuesday that the election should be brought forward - it was originally scheduled for August 2012 - to avoid the campaigning season coinciding with an anticipated global economic downturn. The authoritarian, oil-rich former Soviet nation's parliament is currently occupied exclusively by Nazarbayev’s Nur Otan party.

Changes to the law approved in 2009 mean the party that wins the second largest number of votes will be allocated seats even if it fails to pass the 7 percent threshold normally needed to get into parliament.Kazakhstan has undertaken concerted efforts to project itself as a dynamic emerging economy, but its one-party parliament has long been a source of embarrassment and the subject of international criticism. Despite the apparent efforts to broaden representation in parliament, few believe any genuine opposition parties will win seats, according to AP.

The pro-business and government-friendly Ak Zhol party is seen as most likely to enter the legislature. Ak Zhol leader Azat Peruashev is known to be a close associate of Nazarbayev's influential billionaire son-in-law Timur Kulibayev.

“What is particularly offensive is that the authorities are using government money to hold elections that are utterly senseless, because there is no real competition,” said pro-democracy activist Galym Ageulov.

The Central Asian nation, which shares long borders with both Russia and China, has never held an election deemed free and fair by international observers.

Nazarbayev, a 71-year old former Communist party boss who has led his country with an iron fist since independence in 1991, was earlier this year re-elected for a new five-year term with 95.6 percent of the vote. All real power lies in his hands and parliament serves in effect as a rubber stamp body.

The initiative to dissolve parliament emerged last week, when 53 deputies in the 107-member lower house of parliament approved a motion to call on Nazarbayev to call an early vote. While the move was nominally conceived by the deputies, it is inconceivable that it was executed without the prior blessing of the presidential administration, AP reported. One major coalition of opposition groups that had been taking shape over the past few months was the People's Front, comprised of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan and the unregistered Alga party. But a court in October banned the Communist Party for a six-month period over what it ruled was its illegal membership in the People’s Front, thus putting it out of the running for the upcoming vote.


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