The government’s proposed austerity budget, which tracks IMF recommendations, failed to win endorsement from either house of the normally passive parliament. But the vote narrowly missed the two-thirds’ majority needed to defeat the government on a vote of confidence. The budget will now take effect without parliamentary approval. President Nursultan Nazarbaev carefully took no position on the budget, allowing his prime minister to absorb the blows. Even so, Nazarbaev’s personal prestige is likely to suffer. The economy has been deteriorating since the Russian collapse last August.