2 new parties enter Kazakhstan parliament

Kazakh riot policemen detain an opposition supporter during a rally in Almaty on December 17, 2011.

Story highlights

  • Group says the elections did not meet "key democratic principles"
  • Two parties cross the 7% vote threshold set under new election law
  • The ruling party is the winner by a wide margin
  • A month ago, deadly clashes took place in an oil town
At least two new parties will enter Kazakhstan's parliament, where the ruling party holds every seat.
According to preliminary results released Monday by the Kazakh Central Election Commission, the pro-business Ak Zhol (Bright Path) Party and the Communist People's Party of Kazakhstan both passed the 7% threshold set under new election law to win seats.
Ak Zhol received 7.4%, while the Communist People's Party received 7.2%, according to the results.
However, President Nursultan Nazarbayev's Nur Otan party was the winner by a wide margin. Its 80.74% vote total allows it to retain its grip on the parliament.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said that while the elections, held Sunday, were administered well, they did not meet "key democratic principles."
The group said several political parties were not allowed to participate and the vote counting process was not transparent.
Sunday's election came about a month after Kazakhstan imposed a state of emergency in the oil town of Zhanaozen, the site of deadly clashes on December 16.
The clashes between police and striking oil workers in the town killed 16 and wounded at least 80, according to state media.
The protest was part of a long-running dispute over low pay and the sacking of some workers.
Kazakhstan has often boasted of its stability in a region that has seen its share of conflict.
The ninth-largest country in the world by area, it has the largest economy of all the Central Asian states mostly because of its natural resources, according to the CIA World Factbook.