As Expected, Tajik Ruling Party Wins Parliamentary Elections, Opposition Shut Out

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DUSHANBE Tajikistan's election authorities say President Emomali Rahmon's ruling party, as expected, has won March 1 parliamentary elections and is set to retain control over parliament with its pro-presidential allies.

Central Election Commission Chairman Bakhtiyor Khudoyorzoda announced preliminary results on March 2 showing 50.4 percent of the ballots cast supported the ruling People's Democratic Party, securing 47 seats in the 63-seat Majlisi Namoyandagon (Assembly of Representatives).

Tajikistan uses a mixed system in which 41 of the 63 lower-house seats are contested in single-seat constituencies. The election commission did not announce the party affiliations of the winners in those constituencies, but said that a total of six parties had secured at least one seat each in the legislature.

According to Khudoyorzoda, the only opposition political party, the Social Democratic Party of Tajikistan, failed to meet the 5 percent threshold for representation in parliament, while the Agrarian Party secured 7 seats, the Party of Economic Reforms won five, and the Communist Party got two seats.

The Democratic Party and the Socialist Party got one seat each by the party lists. More than 86 percent of the authoritarian Central Asian nation's 4 million voters took part in the first parliamentary elections since a ban was imposed nearly five years ago on the Islamic Renaissance Party (IRPT), a leading opposition group.Rahmon has been widely criticized for marginalizing the opposition, cracking down on independent media, and mishandling the economy.

Tajikistan is one of the poorest countries in the region, plagued with a struggling economy, high unemployment, and rampant corruption.

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