BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – Kazakhstan has called an early election for parliament, moving up the vote to March 20 instead of waiting until next year.
In setting the new date Wednesday, President Nursultan Nazarbayev said it would help the Central Asian country deal with the economic pressures resulting from the low oil price and slowdowns in neighboring China and Russia.
The early vote also was seen as aimed at getting the election out of the way and a new parliament in place in case the economic downturn leads to any social discontent.
The current parliament is dominated by Nazarbayev's party Nur Otan, which won 81 percent of the vote in the 2012 election.
Nazarbayev, who has held power since the 1991 Soviet collapse, was last re-elected in 2011 with 96 percent of the vote.