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Turkmen Parliament Elections End With 91% Turnout

By Aygerim Sarymbetova March 29, 2023

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A woman casts her ballot during Turkmenistan's parliamentary elections at a polling station in the town of Annau, some 20 kilometers from the capital Ashgabat, on March 26, 2023. / AFP

Elections to Turkmenistan's unicameral parliament and local councils have ended with more than 91% turnout.

"A total of 91.12% of the voters cast their ballots before 1900 (local time) in the elections for deputies of the Mejlis," state news agency Turkmenistan Today reported on March 26.

"91.74% (of the electorate) voted in Ahal region, 91.49% in Balkan region, 90.94% in Dashoguz region, 91.17% in Lebap region, 90.87% in Mary region and 90.91% voted in the capital Ashgabat," the report added.

There are about 3.5 million registered voters in Turkmenistan. The turnout in the elections for the local councils of Turkmenistan was also above 91%.

Chairman of Election Commission of Turkmenistan Gulmyrat Muradov told the media on March 27 that the results of the parliamentary election could be expected within three or four days.

He also said that the vote counting started immediately after polls closed.

Muradov said that the election commission was working round the clock for the last month to facilitate the candidates, electorate and the entire process.

The elections were monitored by over 2,800 national observers and over 80 observers from international organisations such as the United Nations, the Organization of Turkic States and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The process was also covered by foreign journalists.

The observers in a briefing said “the invitation of international observers is seen as a desire of Turkmenistan to ensure maximum transparency of the current campaign and democratic electoral process”.

Before leaving the polling station after casting his vote, Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedov told reporters that holding elections at high organizational level and on a wide alternative basis, as well as accompanying the electoral process with highly professional cultural events, significantly raise the level and significance of the socio-political event taking place in the country.

President's father Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, who holds the title of the national leader and chairs the country's highest representative body called Halk Maslahaty, also took part in the voting at the same polling station.

Emphasising his satisfaction that the historic socio-political event is being held in accordance with the universally recognised norms of international law and the constitution of the country, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov wished a successful completion of the elections.

In January, Turkmenistan reinstated its unicameral legislature, Mejlis, after making it bicameral in 2021. The change came less than a year after former President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov handed over the post to his only son, Serdar, in March 2022.

The Turkmen parliament is an institution with considerable de jure power but little de facto power, with no real influence. There are no opposition parties in the country.

About 280 candidates are running for the 125 seats in parliament for a term of five years in single-member constituencies. The ruling Democratic Party of Turkmenistan (DPT) nominated 97 candidates, the Agrarian Party of Turkmenistan (APT) 71 and the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (PIE) 29. The remaining 83 candidates are put forward by "citizen groups".