Formation Goes On Again

March 20, 2023

Kazakhstan’s President completes building a new government.

Preliminary results of the elections to the lower house of parliament Mazhilis were announced in Kazakhstan. They showed that the legislative body will be unprecedentedly multi-party: it will include the parties, which never entered the parliament before. After these elections we can expect the arrival of live politics in the country. The new reality for Kazakhstan, in which it became possible, was created in less than a year.

According to the preliminary data of the Central Election Commission of Kazakhstan, which were made public on March 20, six parties entered the lower house of parliament. This is already unusual, because it is twice as many as during the rule of the first president Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Such a result is not least of all due to the serious reforms of the electoral legislation, which, strange as it may seem, were initiated by the authorities. In particular, the threshold of passing to the parliament for parties was decreased from 7% to 5%. Party legislation was also liberalized, allowing two new political forces to register, one of which, the Respublica Party took third place, according to preliminary CEC data.

So far, the overall results look as follows:
- The pro-presidential Amanat Party - 53.9%,
- The Auyl People's Democratic Patriotic Party - 10.9%,
- The Respublica Party - 8.59%, the Aq Jol Democratic Party - 8.41%,
- The People's Party of Kazakhstan (PPK) - 6.8%,
- The National Social Democratic Party (NSDP), 5.2%.

Political analyst Gaziz Abishev, analyzing the preliminary results of the election, believes that the distribution of mandates by party lists should be as follows: Amanat - 40 seats, Auyl - 8, Respublica and Aq Jol - 6 each, PPK - 5, NSDP - 4 seats.

Although Amanat received more than half of the votes, this did not guarantee it a majority in the lower house. The single-mandate candidates helped out.

It should be reminded, that after the constitutional amendments adopted at the referendum last June, deputies to the lower chamber of the parliament are elected under a mixed system: 70% - from parties and 30% from single-member districts.

Taking into account all single-mandate candidates, Amanat may have more than 60 seats in the parliament, while the majority has 50 seats. This should allow it to form a government. In any case, in the current parliament, where the opposition NSDP has entered, albeit in small numbers, the debates may be enlivened considerably.

Political analyst Eduard Poletayev points out that "one of the key features of this election campaign is that it closes the political cycle of reforms announced by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev." These reforms began almost immediately after the riots that swept the country in January 2022, in which hundreds were killed and thousands were wounded. President Tokayev, who at first blamed some external forces for destabilization, then quickly switched to readjustment of the internal political system and, in fact, dismantled the political system built by Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev did not limit himself to moving Nazarbayev’s people out. In a year he initiated some serious changes, including the introduction of term limits for the president; now one person can be elected the head of the state only once, but for seven years.

Early presidential elections under the new constitution were held in December, the Senate was partially renewed in January, and early elections to the Mazhilis and Maslikhats, the local representative bodies of power, were held on March 19.

"It seems that at this stage the political transformation is complete. Now the task is to set up the economic system to deal with the consequences of the crisis, inflation and to enter the new economic model, including the new real industrialization.

However, after some time, the question of further modernization of the political system will arise again, we should further improve the electoral mechanisms and the overall architecture of power," says political analyst Gaziz Abishev.

Daniyar Ashimbayev, another political analyst, said, "The main elements of the system have been built and the process will go further. In particular, according to him, the first direct elections of rayon akims are planned for this summer and autumn. True, the expert notes, they will not be held everywhere, but only in some regions as an experiment.

In the meantime, Tokayev himself does not stop talking about further modernization. "It is not enough to modernize only the political system for the development of the country. Reforms must first of all form a new political culture in society. At the same time, it is necessary to assert new values. From now on, the priority will be given to the interests of the country and the rights of every individual," he said on March 13.