Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 151

Yesterday’s elections to the Majlis, the lower house of Kazakhstan’s parliament, filled 43 out of the chamber’s 67 seats. Country-wide turnout was officially reported at 78 percent. A total of 278 candidates from six parties contested the elections, held solely on the basis of single-mandate constituencies as opposed to party lists. No party affiliations of the victors were listed, but no surprises were in store since four of the six parties support president Nursultan Nazarbayev. The main opposition party, the Communists, had only nine candidates registered by the electoral commission, out 28 initially submitted by the party. The communists ran on a program of restoring socialism and the Soviet Union, and complained that the rule preventing party affiliation from being listed on the ballot had robbed the party’s candidates of a higher score. Election observers noted widespread "family" voting which in their view pushed the voter turnout over the legally required minimum of 50 percent. The Majlis can not yet begin its work because it falls two seats short of the constitutionally required two-thirds quorum. Runoff elections must be held within two months in the 24 constituencies in which no candidate obtained 50 percent of the votes cast. (13)

Runoffs must also be held in two constituencies for the Senate, after which President Nursultan Nazarbayev will appoint an additional seven senators. Thirty-eight out of 40 eligible senators were elected December 5. Nazarbayev dissolved the previous parliament in March of this year after most parties challenged the results of the 1994 elections as fraudulent, leading to their annulment. Since March 1995, Nazarbayev has ruled by decree and has held and won two referendums, one to extend his term of office until the year 2000 and a second to pass a new constitution greatly expanding presidential powers at the legislature’s expense. One foreign observer described the essence of the present elections as "creating stability through control."

1. Reuter, December 11

2. Itar-Tass, Interfax, December 8-9

3. Interfax, December 9

4. Reuter, December 8

5. Reuter, December 11

6. Reuter and Itar-Tass, December 10

7. Interfax, December 8 and 9

8. Itar-Tass, Interfax, Russian TV, December 8-10

9. BNS, Interfax, December 7 through 9

10. Interfax, Itar-Tass, NTV, December 8 and 9

11. Basapress and Flux, December 8 and 9

12. Interfax, December 8 and 9

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