Kazakhstan Overwhelmingly “Re-Elects” Nursultan Nazrabayev
Nursultan Nazarbayev has been the leader of Kazakhstan since it became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991, and before that he had served in pretty much every high-level position in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic dating back to 1984. This weekend, he was overwhelmingly “elected” to his fifth term in office:
Election officials in Kazakhstan announced on Monday that voters had re-elected an incumbent who has governed the country since the Soviet Union collapsed, in an election that only ever had one likely winner.
Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, 74, won his fifth successive term in a snap presidential election in which voters headed to the polls in droves on Sunday. In a televised news conference, election officials said on Monday that Mr. Nazarbayev had taken a whopping 97.7 percent of the vote.
The Central Election Commission of Kazakhstan said that turnout was higher than 95 percent, meaning that nearly 93 of every 100 voting-age Kazakh citizens had headed to the polls and cast a ballot for Mr. Nazarbayev.
Mr. Nazarbayev’s two opponents, who support the current government and were seen as playing a perfunctory role in the elections, won a combined 2.3 percent.
Mr. Nazarbayev took a victory lap on Monday morning and dared the West to criticize his victory.
“I apologize if these numbers are unacceptable for the superdemocratic countries, but there was nothing I could do,” Mr. Nazarbayev said at a televised news conference in Astana, the capital. “If I had interfered, it would have been undemocratic.”
On some level, you have to appreciate the man’s sense of irony.