Foreign Diplomats Familiar with Kazakhstan’s Mazhilis Election Preparations

March 15, 2023

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Central Election Commission held a joint traditional briefing for the representatives of the foreign diplomatic corps accredited in the country on the upcoming elections to Mazhilis of the Parliament and Maslikhats of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Opening the event, Roman Vassilenko, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said that the upcoming elections to Mazhilis and Maslikhats of all levels are a landmark event for Kazakhstan, marking one of the most transformational periods in the modern history of our country in the past year. He also added that the upcoming elections will undoubtedly be another step towards greater democracy.

During his speech, the diplomat spoke about the implementation of the reforms, which, despite the internal and external challenges, are a clear demonstration that the Head of State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is committed to his formula "Strong President - Influential Parliament - Accountable Government". Thus, he is determined to ensure continuous progress and positive changes, as evidenced by the whole set of reforms initiated by him over the past year.

Nurlan Abdirov, Chairman of the Central Election Commission, talked about preparations for the upcoming elections.

Addressing the participants of the briefing, the head of the Central Election Commission informed that the current election campaign is the fourth in the last 10 months.

“We conducted a national referendum on making additions and changes to the Constitution, elections of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan as well as elections of deputies of the Senate of the Parliament. All efforts of the Central Election Commission are invariably aimed at conducting fair, genuine and free elections in the Republic of Kazakhstan,” said Nurlan Abdirov.

At the same time, the Head of the CEC reminded that the early elections of deputies to Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan were scheduled by the Decree of the President on January 19. He emphasized that although formally these elections are extraordinary, they are held in accordance with the schedule of election campaigns presented by the Head of the state in his message to the people of Kazakhstan in September 2022.

He also said that the current election campaign is carried out according to new electoral rules and norms and informed the diplomatic corps of the most significant changes in the election legislation, including the transition to a new proportional-majoritarian model in the election of deputies to Mazhilis of Parliament and Maslikhats, abolition of the quota of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan in Mazhilis of Parliament and formation of one of the houses of the higher legislative body by direct vote of citizens as well as transfer of work of territorial and municipal legislatures to the local councils.
Nurlan Abdirov emphasized that Kazakhstan is entering the era of permanent elections and in this regard the professionalization of members of territorial election commissions is of great importance. In this connection a great attention is paid to the issue of training of members of election commissions and all participants of election process. For this purpose the CEC organizes training seminars in the regions. In addition to the territorial, district and precinct commissions, representatives of political parties, media, NGOs, youth, persons with disabilities and call center workers are also trained.

The Chairman of the CEC also briefly reported that as of 6:00 p.m. on February 18, the CEC had registered the party lists of candidates for the Mazhilis of Parliament of all 7 political parties of the country, which included 281 candidates, 107 of whom were women, youth and persons with disabilities, who, as you know, according to the law must be at least 30% of the total number included in the list.

Nurlan Abdirov informed the diplomats on the results of registration of candidates, reporting that as of March 13 385 candidates were registered in single-mandate constituencies for Mazhilis of the Parliament. The biggest competition was in the constituencies of Astana and Almaty, with 38 and 40 candidates per mandate, and 30, 28 and 27 candidates per seat.

The least competition based on the results of registration was observed in constituency No. 25 of Turkestan region - 4 candidates per one mandate.
In his speech, the Chairman of the CEC also told about the pre-election campaigning, he said that the pre-election campaigning would continue until 00:00 o'clock on March 18. The candidates and political parties are provided with equal conditions of access to the media for campaigning and equal allocation of funds for presentations of programs. On 1 and 10 March, live pre-election debates organized by political parties were held on Qazaqstan and KTK TV channels. On March 16, election television debates organized by the Central Election Commission will be held on the air of Khabar TV channel.

The Central Election Commission works in an open mode, since the appointment of the elections all sessions are held in an open and accessible manner, mass media are present, the possibility to participate in the sessions through live broadcasting on the Internet resources with sign language translation is provided. International observers are invited to all meetings. At the end of each session, briefings are held by the Central Election Commission to explain the decisions taken.

A telegram channel and a special section on the elections on the website of the Central Election Commission are functioning. A lot of work is carried out on the information support of the election campaign.

Nurlan Abdirov noted that in the framework of international partnership the Central Election Commission is open for cooperation with international institutions, NGOs and the expert community.

He reported that the OSCE ODIHR prepared an Interim Report on observation of the early elections of deputies to Majilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which was published on March 3. Also on March 11, the Interim Report of the Observer Mission from the Commonwealth of Independent States on the course of observation of preparations for the early elections of deputies to Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan was published.

In his speech, the Head of the CEC noted that the accreditation of international observers had ended on March 13.

The Central Election Commission accredited 793 observers, including representatives of the OSCE/ODIHR Observation Mission, OSCE PA, CIS, CIS IPA, CSTO PA, Organisation of Turkic States, TurkPA, SCO, CICA, OIC, and the Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, and also from 41 foreign countries.
The CEC Chairman said that representatives of central election commissions of 16 countries, including the chairmen of central election commissions of Azerbaijan, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will come to observe the elections through bilateral cooperation.

Nurlan Abdirov thanked the diplomatic corps for the intention to participate in monitoring of the early elections to Mazhilis of the Parliament of Kazakhstan and assured that the CEC will ensure maximum openness, transparency and democratic procedures of the electoral process.
The heads of foreign diplomatic missions received comprehensive answers from the Chairman of the CEC to numerous questions about the organisation of the forthcoming elections and the process of monitoring the elections.