Voting has begun in a parliamentary election in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, where the governing party is expecting an easy win.

The early vote comes amid an economic crisis in this Central Asian nation, which has been hard hit by the falling price of oil, its main export commodity.

The Nur Otan party of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the only leader post-Soviet Kazakhstan has ever had, is expected to cruise to an easy victory and retain its control of the lower house of parliament.

The authorities are casting the election as a form of renewal for the ruling party, with Nur Otan putting a smattering of national celebrities and young faces on its party lawmaker list.