Dec 13 (Reuters) - Turkmenistan holds its first multi-party parliamentary election in its post-Soviet history on Sunday with all the candidates running on the same political line as strongman leader President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.
Keen to burnish his image abroad as he seeks new gas export routes to bypass former imperial master Russia, the president, who wields virtually unlimited powers in the Central Asian nation of 5.5 million, allowed the creation of the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs before stepping down as leader of the ruling Democratic Party in August.
A total of 283 candidates are seeking seats in the 125-member legislature. Here is some information about the parties and public organisations running in the election, and the election rules.
The party, founded in 1991 as successor to the Soviet Communist Party, has fielded 99 candidates. It numbers about 190,000 members.
Created in August 2012 on Berdymukhamedov’s personal order, this loyal party has 21 candidates running in the election. It has about 2,000 members.
These include a women’s union, trade unions and a youth union - all state-sponsored - which have together fielded 163 candidates.
The Central Election Commission has not published its latest data on the number of eligible voters. Before last year’s presidential election, it said there were just under three million voters in the country.
Polls open at 7 a.m. (0200 GMT) and close at 7 p.m. (1400 GMT). First official preliminary results are expected early on Dec. 16.
Parliamentary elections are held every five years. Candidates are elected by single-mandate constituencies.
Turnout of at least 50 percent is required to make the election legitimate. (Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Louise Ireland)