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.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Pinky says:

    I think it was George Will who talked about the “Tirana index”, which was basically the idea that the greater the percentage of one candidate’s support over 70%, the more likely it was that there was no real democracy.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Bad weather suppressed turn-out or it would have been 99.9%

  3. @michael reynolds:

    Pretty much, although a quick review of the other former Soviet Republics reveals that the only ones that have a democratic political system that isn’t anything but a sham are the Baltic States.