The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) on Wednesday opened its observer mission for early parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan. The elections are scheduled for March 19.
“The mission is made up of a core team, which includes 11 international experts stationed in Astana and 32 long-term observers, who will join us within a week,” said Eoghan Murphy, head of the ODIHR observer mission.
Murphy announced that the ODIHR plans to request the dispatch of 300 short-term observers to arrive several days before the elections. He said the mission would assess the elections’ compliance with OSCE norms and international democratic standards, as well as national legislation.
“The observers will carefully monitor all aspects of the elections, such as the development of the campaign, the work of the electoral authorities at all levels and its reflection in the media and social networks,” Murphy said.
On election day, the ODIHR mission will work with observers from the UN Parliamentary Assembly and observe the opening of polling stations, voting, recounting and counting of results. The ODIHR will publish a partial report two weeks before the elections and a statement with preliminary conclusions the day after the vote. A final report with recommendations will be released several months later.
The parliamentary elections will elect members of Kazakhstan’s Lower House of Parliament (Mazhilis). President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced the elections on January 19 after the dissolution of the legislative body.
Under the new election rules, 70% of Lower House representatives will be elected by party lists and the remaining 30% by districts.
Seven pro-government parties will participate in the elections, including the ruling Amanat (formerly Nur Otan), Tokayev’s party, followed by the liberal Ak Zhol party, the National Social Democratic Party of Kazakhstan, and the Auyl Patriotic People’s-democratic party.
Two new formations, the Green Party of Kazakhstan Baytak and the center-right Respublica Party, will also participate. Independent candidates can also participate, with registration open until February 18. The electoral campaign will conclude a day before the elections with a day of reflection.