Elections Showed Citizens’ Active Participation in the Process of Governing the State – Shynar Bakytzhan

March 19, 2023

Shynar Bakytzhan
Philosophy, Political Science and Religious Studies
Researcher at the Institute under
Academy of Social and Political Sciences
Member of the Platform of Young Experts

The main requirement of the people of Kazakhstan to the authorities is fair Kazakhstan. And any reform will bring positive results only if there is a demand from the society. The reforms implemented on the way to create a fair Kazakhstan, since the beginning of the year gave a special impetus to the political life of the country. The more candidates, the more fair elections with high competition.

A distinctive feature of these elections is that they are held under a mixed electoral system. In Kazakhstan, elections in single-mandate districts were held for the last time only in 2004. Citizens with an active life position were given the opportunity to elect to represent the interests of their constituents.
The innovation also included a reduction in the number of members to register political parties, effectively making new party movements possible. For example, two new parties, Baitak and Respublika, were registered at the time the elections were announced.

In addition to the new procedures for creating parties, the conditions for transition of parties to the parliament were simplified. Another new trend in the electoral process should be called the active participation of initiative women and talented youth in big politics.

It is expected that such a change in the electoral system in the formation of maslikhats in the regions, Almaty, Shymkent and Astana, will affect the political life and activities in these regions in the following ways:

One thing, the variety of representatives. An increase in the number of non-party deputies in the maslikhats of regions, cities of Almaty, Shymkent and Astana will ensure a broader representation of the authorities and the population in these regions. Non-party deputies are independent, and pluralism of views and interests contributes to a deeper discussion of many needs of the residents of the region.

Secondly, an improvement in the quality of legislation. Non-party deputies can give constructive proposals, based on the real needs of the population, which do not depend on party political interests. This will help create effective and balanced legislation which meets the needs of the region's residents.

In general, I expect that the new system of elections for maslikhats of regions, cities of Almaty, Shymkent and Astana will have a positive impact on the development of the political system in the regions and will contribute to more effective work of local authorities.

The implementation of the course of political modernization of the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is aimed at strengthening democratic institutions and processes in the country. The election campaign of 2023 may show that this modernization will really affect and bear fruit in the form of rehabilitation of electoral processes and increasing public confidence in the electoral system.

For example, last year in Kazakhstan, legislation was amended to increase the ability to monitor elections and ensure the transparency and integrity of the process.

In addition, the election campaign introduced new electronic systems allowing citizens to monitor the course of elections and receive information about candidates and their programs.

The 2023 Mazhilis and Maslikhat elections in Kazakhstan are a step towards further democratization of Kazakhstan's political system. In recent years, the government of Kazakhstan has taken steps to strengthen democratic institutions, such as expanding the rights of journalists and opposition parties, eliminating online censorship, creating independent commissions to appoint public officials, and paving the way for debates on electoral reform.
These elections are an important step toward strengthening democratic institutions.

Maslikhats are legislative bodies at the local level in Kazakhstan. The increased role of maslikhats in Kazakhstan is aimed at the following positive results:

First, the participation of citizens in the management of affairs at the local level with great responsibility. This builds confidence in the government and democratic institutions in general.

Second, it improves the quality of decisions. Local participation in decision-making allows local needs and characteristics to be taken into account, which is expected to lead to more adaptive and effective decision-making.
Third, strengthening regional development. Maslikhats can play an important role in attracting investment and developing regional infrastructure, leading to enhanced regional economic development.

Fourth, reduction of bureaucracy. Maslikhats can be used to simplify complicated procedures and solve problems related to bureaucratic processes at the local level.

Overall, it is hoped that increasing the role of maslikhats in Kazakhstan should promote effective and democratic governance at the local level, leading to more sustainable regional development and a better quality of life for local people.

The introduction of the right to recall a deputy's mandate in case the voters fail to fulfill their electoral promises and programs is a step towards strengthening democratic institutions and increasing the responsibility of deputies to their constituents.

This news should motivate deputies to fulfill their promises and electoral programs, as they now understand that not only complying with the mandate, but also affects their career in politics, forcing deputies to be more responsible and open in their work.

This innovation may become an additional tool to increase the accountability of deputies to their constituents in Kazakhstan.

Of course, expanding the role of maslikhats in Kazakhstan, introducing the right of voters to recall deputies and other measures aimed at strengthening democracy and developing civil society can be the basis for the development of electoral culture in the country.

These measures contribute to the formation of an active and informed electoral base that consciously participates in elections and requires its representatives to fulfill their promises and pre-election programs. This will increase the level of responsibility of the deputies and improve the quality of their work, as well as strengthen the institutions of civil society.

Along with the introduction of new measures to develop the electoral culture it is necessary to pay attention to educating and informing citizens about the political processes within a democratic society, their rights and obligations, and create conditions for free and open discussion.

Indeed, the current period in Kazakhstan is an important historical period associated with the renewal of the political system of the country. A number of measures taken in recent years are aimed at the development of civil society, which should lead to a change in political culture and increase the level of civil relations.

Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the process of resetting the political system is not quick and easy. I think that the reforms will be gradually implemented with the participation of all Kazakhstani stakeholders, and will achieve sustainable development and strengthen democracy in the political system.

Source: NIKA Group Perspective Research Center