ASTANA — Kazakhstan — Central Asia’s largest economy and leading country — will hold an early presidential election according to new laws on November 20.
The country is currently in the process of a comprehensive reset of key public institutes in line with a new strategy of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, centered on strengthening of interethnic accord and partnership between the state and society, and adherence to the concept of a “listening state.” A new type of political system is in the making — “strong President, influential Parliament, accountable Government,” aimed at modernizing the country’s social and political life.
Kazakhstan citizens now have the right to peaceful assembly, and the possibility to elect mayors of districts and villages. The protection of the citizens’ constitutional rights has been strengthened: a Constitutional Court has been created, the ombudsman now enjoys immunity, death penalty has been abolished. Requirements for the registration of political parties have been simplified: the minimum number of a party members has been lowered from 40 thousand down to 5 thousand. A mixed electoral system has been introduced — 70 percent based on the proportional system and 30 percent on the majoritarian system. For the first time since 2004, voters have the right to vote against all of the candidates.
The presidential term of office has been changed from five to seven years, with no right for reelection. This will not allow a president to usurp the power, and will eliminate the possibility of lobbying the interests of certain political and oligarchic groups.
Authorities are pursuing a consistent and open policy aimed at building a Just Kazakhstan, in which the state promptly and effectively responds to all constructive demands of citizens by conducting a permanent dialogue between the state and society.
The State Councilor of Kazakhstan, Erlan Karin, believes that the ongoing political reforms in Kazakhstan “will ensure a rotation of power, predictability and stability of the political system”.
President Tokayev has been adhering to Kazakhstan’s multi-vector policy. Kazakhstan has strengthened the collaboration with the Turkic world, first of all with Türkiye. Astana and Ankara have signed an agreement on “expanded strategic partnership” and agreed on production of Turkish surveillance and combat drones in Kazakhstan. Astana has also supported Azerbaijan in its dispute with Yerevan over Nagorno-Karabakh. At the same time, Kazakhstan has begun promoting its interests in the Persian Gulf and Middle East regions: in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. Astana continues to act as an active lobbyist of peaceful negotiations to resolve the conflict in Syria.
Kazakhstan occupies a special place in Beijing’s policies. Chinese President Xi Jinping made his first foreign visit after the pandemic to Kazakhstan, demonstrating that China’s interests in this region center on Kazakhstan.
Over the past 2.5 years Astana has strengthened its partnership with Washington. Since 2019 President Tokayev has paid two visits to the United States. The Kazakh President’s Special Envoy has conducted several negotiations with the US Department of State. The US Secretary of State and delegations of the Congress visited Astana. President Tokayev has said that Kazakhstan will continue maintaining “close partnerships with the US”.
Kazakhstan continues its dialogue with the European Union. Tokayev recently assured the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, that Kazakhstan could be helpful during the current period of growing geopolitical disagreements between the West and Russia, acting as a “buffer market” between the East and West, North and South.
The holding in Astana in September of the 7th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in the difficult geopolitical situation in the world, and the participation of Pope Francis in the event, testifies to the recognition of Kazakhstan as a unique dialogue platform for discussion and resolution of global issues.
The ongoing comprehensive reforms demonstrate Kazakhstan’s commitment to democratization and the state’s aspiration to ensure the rights and safety of each and every citizen. The measures aimed at transformation of state power, internal consolidation and national unity create additional factors for giving Kazakhstan the status of a reliable and stable partner in the international arena.