A fifth party, the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan, which is focused solely on environmental issues, automatically gets 15 seats in the chamber.

"The election is taking part in an increasingly active and healthy environment of social and political competition among parties," Mirza-Ulugbek Abdusalomov, the central election commission chief, told reporters ahead of the vote.

'Meaningless' election

However, some voters did not appear convinced.

"There is no point," the Reuters news agency quoted one man in the capital Tashkent as saying before voting opened at 01:00 GMT. "It is meaningless."

Another man was quoted as saying: "People here seriously do not care. ... It's not an election."

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe decided not to send a full mission to the former Soviet state after criticising Tashkent for failing to implement any of its recommendations.

Uzbekistan's relations with the US and European Union soured after soldiers opened fire on protesters in the town of Andizhan in 2005, but have since improved.

This year, Uzbekistan allowed transit of supplies for US troops in Afghanistan through its territory and released an opposition politician from jail after the EU dropped sanctions against the country.

Uzbekistan has large gas and oil reserves and is among the world's top 10 gold producers.