NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan, June 7, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Voters in Kazakhstan go to the polls on Sunday, in what is set to be the country's largest presidential election since independence in 1991, the Institute for Eurasian Integration has found. 11 million voters are eligible to vote in the population of 18.6 million. This includes 1.5 million new voters who have turned 18 since the last presidential election in 2015.
"I will be voting for the very first time," said 20-year old Bexultan Chekayev. "I have looked at the policies of all the parties and have decided the candidate I want to support."
There are 7 candidates standing for the country's highest office, compared to just 3 in 2015. They represent a wide range of political opinions and include a science editor, a banker, a trade union leader, an opposition politician, and a communist, apart from the incumbent, a career diplomat.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is the candidate of the ruling party, Nur Otan. He has campaigned across the country since taking office in March after the resignation of the first president Nursultan Nazarbayev. Also standing is Kazakhstan's first female candidate, Daniya Yespaeva of the Ak Zhol party, and Amirzhan Kosanov, an opposition politician and journalist nominated by the Destiny of the Nation movement.
The election has generated interest internationally, according to the survey, as Kazakhstan is a strong ally of the West, occupying a strategic position in Central Asia between Russia and China.
According to Zauresh Baymoldina, a representative of the Central Election Commission, 1,013 election observers are expected from 41 countries and 9 international organizations. These include the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), PACE, CIS, SCO, OIC, CCTS and TurkPA. Observers from Georgia, Armenia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Russia and Turkey are also expected. In addition, a record number of foreign journalists (227) from more than 40 countries have been accredited.
Kazakhstan has seen its voter turnout grow steadily over the years. In the 1999 presidential election, turnout was 86.9%, while in 2015 it reached 96.81%. With voter interest high this time too, the election on Sunday is expected to be another milestone in the development of democracy in Central Asia.
SOURCE Institute for Eurasian Integration, Nur-Sultan