Kazakh ruling party wins parliamentary vote -1

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President Nursultan Nazarbayev's Nur Otan party has won 88% of votes in a parliamentary election, with all other parties falling short of the 7% vote share required to enter parliament, preliminary results showed Sunday.
(Recasts, adds additional information in paras 3-6)

ASTANA, August 19 (RIA Novosti) - President Nursultan Nazarbayev's Nur Otan party has won 88% of votes in a parliamentary election, with all other parties falling short of the 7% vote share required to enter parliament, preliminary results showed Sunday.

A total of 5,174,000 Kazakh citizens representing 88.05% of the vote cast their ballot papers in favor of the Kazakh leader's party at the parliamentary elections held Saturday, said Kuandyk Turgankulov, chairman of the Central Election Commission of the oil-rich Central Asian state.

In June, Nazarbayev dissolved parliament and called an election two years ahead of schedule in line with constitutional amendments he proposed in May and as part of a drive to improve Kazakhstan's image abroad as a democratic nation.

He said the election would result in a more powerful parliament. For the first time, the Mazhilis will have a say in the nomination of a prime minister and other government officials.

However, critics have pointed out that the same constitutional changes, which prompted Saturday's polling, will also expand Nazarbayev's own power by lifting term limits on the president.

More than 1,000 foreign observers monitored polling stations throughout the country.

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