Ruling party likely to sweep Kazakhstan election
Kazakhstan is voting in a snap parliamentary election widely expected to cement President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev's grip on power and complete the reshuffle of the ruling elite that began after he fully assumed leadership last year.
Although he formally became president three years ago, Tokayev, 69, had remained in the shadow of his predecessor and former patron Nursultan Nazarbayev until January 2022 when the two fell out amid an attempted coup and violent unrest.
Tokayev sidelined Nazarbayev after suppressing the political unrest in the oil-rich Central Asian country and had a number of his associates removed from senior positions in the public sector, some of whom later faced corruption charges.
While Tokayev has reshuffled the government, the lower house of parliament - elected when Nazarbayev still had sweeping powers and led the ruling Nur Otan party - was not due for election until 2026, and the president called a snap vote.
Unlike Nazarbayev, Tokayev has chosen not to lead the ruling party - now rebranded Amanat - but polls show it is likely to retain a comfortable majority, especially in the absence of strong opposition parties on the ballot.
However, for the first time in almost two decades, several opposition figures are running as independents, a move that might allow some government critics to win some seats.
The completion of political transition is likely to strengthen Tokayev's hand in foreign policy. Despite receiving Moscow's backing during the 2022 unrest, he has refused to support Russia's invasion of Ukraine or recognise its annexation of some Ukrainian territories.
At the same time, Astana is trying to maintain good relationships with both Moscow, its neighbour and major trading partner, and the West, which seeks to isolate Russia.