(NYTimes) Voters in Kazakhstan were set to re-elect an incumbent on Sunday who has ruled the country since the Soviet Union collapsed, in an election that could have only one outcome.
Nursultan Nazarbayev, 74, will win his fifth straight term in a snap presidential election as voters headed to the polls in droves on Sunday. According to The Associated Press, election officials said on Monday that Mr. Nazarbayev had taken 97.7 percent of the vote. The country’s elections commission said turnout was higher than 95 percent.
The election was called in February, seen as a move by Mr. Nazarbayev to win a vote of confidence as Kazakhstan, Central Asia’s largest country, faces a daunting economic slowdown from the collapse in oil prices and regional instability because of the crisis in Ukraine. […]
“This has been quite a year for the Kazakhs,” said Alexander A. Cooley, a professor at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute and an expert on Central Asia. “In times of political uncertainty, you reaffirm some traditional moorings and foundations of the political system.”
“I think the government was concerned that if the economy goes down, then there could be a protest electorate,” said Nargis Kassenova, the director of the Central Asian Studies Center at Kimep University in Almaty, the country’s largest city. “So to have nice figures, to get really good numbers for the leadership without manipulating the vote too much, I think they held the vote this year.”
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