There are nine candidates on the ticket, but Serdar Berdymukhamedov, son of the incumbent, is expected to win.
Voting is underway in Turkmenistan for a tightly controlled snap election, with outgoing President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov’s son poised to win the ballot in the former Soviet Central Asian nation.
Nine candidates are on the ballot in the republic of six million people. Three-time President Berdymukhamedov, who tolerates no opposition and has dominated public life since the country’s founding president died in 2006, has given way to his 40-year-old son, Serdar Berdymukhamedov.
A state television announcer who confirmed the start of voting at 07:00 (02:00 GMT) on Saturday said that the elections “will become an even clearer proof of the irreversibility of the process of democratization of Turkmen society.” modern”.
Polling stations in the desert nation close at 7:00 p.m. (2:00 p.m. GMT).
Gurbanguly, 64, signaled his decision to step aside last month and allow “young leaders” to rule.
The 64-year-old leader benefits from a dazzling cult of leadership that includes a gilded statue of him on horseback and draws comparisons to North Korea, a country that has already seen two hereditary successions.
The sycophantic celebrations of his hobbies on Turkmenistan’s state television — horseback riding, songwriting and rally car driving, to name a few — have made the so-called “protector” a phenomenon on foreign social media, all of which are blocked. .
The leader, who assures that his country has not suffered a single case from the coronavirus, said last month that he wants to stay in politics in his role as speaker of the upper house of Turkmenistan’s parliament.
Much less is known about Serdar Berdymukhamedov, whose government promotions received little public attention until he entered parliament in 2016.
Since then he has been vice chancellor, head of province and minister of industry and construction.
Last year he got a triple promotion, taking on the roles of cabinet vice president, auditor general and security council member.
Civil servant Selbi Nepesova, 39, told the AFP news agency that Serdar Berdymukhamedov’s official biography shows that he is “the most experienced” of the candidates, despite being younger than his rivals, most of the which are low-ranking government employees.
“The people who worked with him know more about him than we ordinary people. He will have his father close to him,” the Ashgabat resident said, explaining her decision to vote for him.
Turkmenistan’s economy relies almost entirely on natural gas sales, making it vulnerable to external shocks that have crippled the purchasing power of citizens, who have no access to foreign exchange.
The country sits on the fourth largest natural gas reserves in the world and exports gas through pipelines to China and Russia.
The state media in Turkmenistan has almost completely ignored the bloody war taking place in Europe.
But on Friday he referenced “complicated circumstances” in Ukraine in a report on the evacuation of Turkmen students forced to flee the country.
Unsurprisingly, the spokesman credited the outgoing president with ensuring the evacuation.
The returning students “expressed their deep and sincere gratitude to the nation’s leader for his truly fatherly care,” state information service TDH said.
Turkmenistan’s upcoming father-son exchange will be the first of its kind in Central Asia, despite longstanding predictions of family rule in Turkmenistan’s larger neighbors Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for March 19, TDH reported Friday.
Across the Caspian Sea, in the Caucasus region, Azerbaijan became the first ex-Soviet country to establish a dynasty when its current president, Ilham Aliyev, took over after the death of father Heydar Aliyev in 2003.
Tajikistan, the bloc’s poorest successor state, is expected to follow a similar path, with 34-year-old head of the upper house Rustam Emomali in prime position to succeed 69-year-old veteran leader Emomali Rahmon in the event of Rahmon retiring or showing that he cannot fulfill his duties.