Kazakhstan to hold legislative, local elections on March 19

Kazakhstan to hold legislative, local elections on March 19

Voters to choose members of local legislatures, members of lower house of parliament

By Meiramgul Kussainova

ASTANA, Kazakhstan (AA) — Kazakh voters are going to the polls this Sunday to elect lawmakers and local officials after a presidential election and constitutional referendum last year.

In the upcoming early elections, members of local legislatures in 17 provinces and three municipalities, Astana, Almaty and Shymkent, will be on the ballot, as well as candidates for five-year terms in the lower house of the national-level parliament, the Majilis.

Set to become the eighth legislative and local elections since the country's independence from the Soviet Union, the elections will be held in mixed-member majoritarian representation system, applied following amendments made to the Kazakh constitution with the latest constitutional referendum held in June 2022.

A new system of proportional representation in legislative elections was introduced after the 2004 polls in the Central Asian country, aiming to bring new figures into the country's politics as independent candidates and members of different political parties.

The Majilis consists of 98 seats, in which 69 deputies represent political parties and 29 represent regions that have a single deputy.

According to Kazakhstan's Central Election Commission, seven registered political parties are participating in the vote, namely the ruling party Amanat, Auyl, Respublica, the People's Party of Kazakhstan, Baytaq, Aq Jol, and the Nationwide Social Democratic Party.

Among these, Baytaq, also known as the Green Party of Kazakhstan, and Respublica will be taking part in elections for the first time. They will need to pass the country's 5% threshold to enter parliament.

Separately, 14,207 candidates will be vying for 3,415 local council seats, or Maslikhats, which serve as local representative bodies.

About 800 foreign observers are set to follow the elections, including from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Organization of Turkic States (OTS), Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic States (TURKPA), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

For Kazakh nationals living abroad, 77 ballot boxes will be set up in foreign representations across 62 countries.

On Jan. 19, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev dissolved the lower house of parliament and called early elections for March 19.

*Writing by Burc Eruygur in Istanbul

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