Voting Begins In Kazakhstan Election

Published January 15, 2012 1:27AM (EST)

ASTANA, Kazakhstan (AP) — Voting has begun in elections in the oil-rich Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan that are expected to slightly broaden democratic representation in parliament's lower house.

All seats in parliament are currently occupied by President Nursultan Nazarbayev's Nur Otan party. A 2009 election law gives at least two seats to the party with the second-highest share of votes even if it does not receive the 7 percent share that is the threshold for proportional allotment of seats.

Opposition parties that were most likely to pose a robust challenge to Nur Otan have been either disqualified from competing Sunday or rendered largely powerless.

The pro-business Ak Zhol party, which avoids confrontation with the government, is seen as the most likely runner-up.

By Salon Staff

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