ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan — Nearly everyone in Turkmenistan showed up Sunday to vote in the presidential election in which the authoritarian incumbent was the overwhelming favorite against eight nominal opponents, according to the country’s elections commission.

The commission said turnout exceeded 97 percent of the electorate for the election, the first to feature candidates from non-government parties on the central Asian country’s ballot.

However, those parties still are largely submissive to the government. The eight other candidates in the race have expressed support for the government of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.

Berdymukhamedov has been the overwhelmingly dominant figure in the former Soviet republic since late 2006, when he assumed power after the death of his eccentric predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov.

As president, he has made reforms to the single-party system imposed by Niyazov and eliminated some remnants of Niyazov’s cult of personality, which included naming the months of the year after his family members and requiring schoolchildren to read his book of philosophical musings.

Some of Niyazov’s more notoriously odd initiatives, such as banning opera and gold teeth, also were rolled back. Notably, Berdymukhamedov expanded public access to the internet and increased compulsory education from nine years to 12.

Under Berdymukhamedov, non-government parties are allowed, although such parties are strictly vetted.