ALMATY, November 20, 2011: Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev cruised to a landslide victory in Sunday’s snap election, according to polls, consolidating his hold on power less than a year after ousting longtime president Nursultan. Nazarbayev
In the year The former diplomat, who succeeded Nazarbayev in 2019, broke with his former supporter in the January uprising that Tokayev called an attempted coup that ousted Central Asia’s only ruler since Soviet rule.
A new electoral victory – polls showed him winning 82% to 85% of the vote – would give Tokayev, 69, the enormous personal power that Nazarbayev has regularly enjoyed as he built a cult of personality over five consecutive terms.
238 people lost their lives in the popular uprising earlier this year, which Nazarbayev has held on to since his resignation. Tokayev has since forced Nazarbayev’s allies to leave other places, and has changed the name of the capital – it was named “Nur-Sultan” in Nazarbayev’s honor – back to Astana.
Tokayev called for Russian help to end the unrest in January, but has since distanced himself from Moscow and avoided public support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Russia is Kazakhstan’s biggest trading partner, and Russia’s slide into recession has hurt its neighbor’s economy, with the ruble’s strength fueled by capital controls pushing Kazakhstan’s inflation to a 14-year high.
Tokayev, a former foreign minister and UN deputy secretary-general, oversaw constitutional reforms that would have limited his rule to two terms. He promises to reduce income inequality in the country of 19 million people by rooting out corruption and redistributing wealth fairly.
The presidential election was originally scheduled for late 2024, but was moved up after January’s unrest and constitutional referendum. Tokayev said on Sunday that he would continue to “reorganize” the political system by calling early parliamentary elections next year. Tokayev left the ruling Amanat party this year and oversaw reforms that made it easier to form new political parties.
Polls predict none of the other five candidates will reach double digits in Sunday’s vote.
“Among the presidential candidates, I know only Tokayev, first of all,” Timurlan Sadykov, a resident of Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, said on the eve of the vote.
“And secondly, the way he carried himself on the international stage was very attractive.”
Another Almaty voter, a 35-year-old manager who gave only his first name, Serik, voted against all the candidates.
“… I think the powers that be should realize that they have not given us any real choice.”
Protesters and local media reported that police arrested a few dozen people in Almaty for protesting the vote, calling it illegal. Police said some of them were released soon after, while others were charged with crimes.
By the time polling stations closed at 9 a.m. across Kazakhstan, 69.4% of voters had cast their ballots, the Central Election Commission announced. The first results of the election are expected on Monday.
Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov and Maria Gordeyeva Additional reporting by Tamara Val in Astana Editing by Peter Graf, Frances Carey, Alexander Smith and Paul Simao
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.