ASTANA — On November 20 Kazakhstan will hold an early presidential election. The upcoming event is widely discussed both inside the country and by political experts abroad.
The year 2022 has become a turning point for Kazakhstan. The attempted coup in January triggered tectonic shifts in the Kazakh echelons of power. Those events caused a great interest in reforms and great expectations from the President’s annual Address to the Nation.
Together with constitutional amendments aimed at democratization of the political system and approved by a nationwide referendum, the initiatives proposed by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in his Address inspired Kazakhstanis — especially the proposal to reduce the presidential mandate to one term of seven years with no right for reelection, and to hold an early presidential election.
“Seven years is enough for implementing any ambitious program. The one-term limit for a president will make the head of state maximally focus on solving strategic tasks of the national development,” the President said in the Address to the Nation.
This new provision aims at reducing the risk of monopolization of power and super-presidential authoritarian rule.
The president’s seven-year term of office will allow implementing large-scale democratic reforms of the country’s political system — to strengthen the rule of the people, to ensure transparency and accountability of the state power, and to increase its efficiency.
In addition, any time limit is a powerful motivator — an elected president will have to thoroughly plan his activities for seven years and use the single term of office for doing as much as he can.
The new presidential system will strengthen the political stability and sustainability of the Kazakh model of social system. The single-term presidential system heralds a new political era in Kazakhstan. As a result, by mid-2023 the country will see a reset and modernization of the main political institutes — the President, Parliament, and Government.
The upcoming election will help finally break Tokayev’s ties with the “Old Kazakhstan,” obtain the people’s support right now, and get a long period of time for implementing all of the proposed reforms. It would be a preventive step against a return of the revanchists. At the same time, the early presidential election will boost political competition and help increase the number of political organizations.
The 2022 presidential election will become an important, historic event in the political life of Kazakhstan, at least because Tokayev’s ambitious goal — to build a Just Kazakhstan with open political competition and equal opportunities for everyone — is quite realistic.