Yesterday’s snap Presidential election in Kazakhstan has been assessed very negatively by OSCE/ODIHR, the most respected international group present in the country. The election was called after interim President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called the poll having taken over from long time President Nursultan Nazarbayev .
The full OSCE/ODIHR statement can be found here. It is a preliminary statement and the final report will be issued in a couple of months once the election processes, including any complaints and appeals, have been dealt with.
In short, OSCE/ODIHR found that:
- there were a few positives, including that the central election commission held its meetings in public;
- the campaign environment was not equal, with huge bias being shown towards the incumbent;
- although there were seven candidates, including one woman, there was no real choice available to voters;
- restrictions on freedom of assembly and arrests of those who expressed views opposed to the incumbent regime meant there was not an open campaign environment;
- there were indications of malfeasance on Election Day including of ballot box stuffing;
- counting and tabulation procedures were particularly problematic with evidence of manipulation of the vote.
Mr Tokayev was declared the winner with 70.76% of the vote – well down on the 98% which his predecessor was recorded as having gained last time.
This report presents a challenge both to the Kazakh regime and to other governments. The Kazakh regime has shown in the past that it does not take much notice of OSCE/ODIHR reports. Will they do so this time? And similarly for the OSCE member governments that commissioned this mission – will they take any account of the problems with the election and will any action follow?
UPDATE: A Chatham House paper on the elections and what happens next is here.