Preliminary Results of the Elections Discussed by KISI Experts

March 24, 2023

On March 19 elections to the lower house of Parliament and local representative bodies were held in Kazakhstan. To sum up the results of parliamentary elections, the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the RK held a regular meeting of a national expert platform KISI GPS on March 2023 on the theme "Results of Parliamentary Elections: New System - New Challenges".

During the meeting, prominent Kazakh experts shared their opinions on the election results and their forecasts for the further development of political discourse. The opinions of the participants of the event were unanimous in the opinion that the last election was the first and key step to a full reloading of Kazakhstan's political system.

Speaking about the completion of the cycle of political reforms, launched by the President back in 2022, Erkin Tukumov, the director of KISI, said that one of the effects of these elections will be further development and strengthening of the institution of parliamentarism and party field of Kazakhstan.

As it is known, more than 10 thousand single-mandate candidates took part in the parliamentary elections. Of these, 61.81% were self-nominated and 38.19% were nominated by various political parties and other public associations.

According to Erkin Tukumov, the majoritarian deputies will set the tone in the Mazhilis, and the "proportional" deputies will follow them.

"With the establishment of a mixed system, we can count on the further development of party culture both among parties that passed into the Mazhilis and new parties. Also, the mixed system should contribute to strengthening the connection between voters and people's deputies. Thanks to these innovations, we observed quite lively, interesting pre-election struggle. There were three series of debates between the parties. Debates were also held between individual candidates in the districts. All these materials are available on YouTube, both as a guide for future candidates and as a subject for political scientists. Thus, the reforms and the elections themselves have provided great opportunities, but along with this there is also a great responsibility for those wishing to create parties. The parties of our country should have wide enough support, especially in the regions. The long-term strategy of activity is important". Summarizing his speech, Erkin Tukumov suggested discussing how the new Mazhilis will function, and what effect the reforms and elections will have on the political system as a whole.

Talgat Kaliyev, Director of the Institute of Ethnopolitical Studies, expressed the hope that the relationship both within the Parliament and between the Parliament and other institutions of power will change.

"We expect inter-party competition in the Mazhilis, we also expect a struggle between factional and single-mandate candidates, which we haven't had in the lower chamber for almost 20 years. They will introduce novelty in the work of the legislative body, and will change the relationship both within Parliament and between Parliament and other institutions of power," Kaliyev said.

Political scientist Zhanar Tulindinova said, in turn, that the elections are a high point for Kazakhstan.

"This year was full of electoral events. Maximum conditions for parties and self-nominated candidates were created. A law on parliamentary opposition was adopted and the threshold for parties to enter the Mazhilis was lowered. As a result, for the first time since 2004 we have such a diverse multi-party Mazhilis," said Tulindinova.

According to Zhanar Bukanova, head of the Center for Electoral Training of the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the current elections were held with fewer remarks.
"In December 2022, there were a number of requirements to election commission members in terms of qualifications, degree of education and work experience. During the past elections, the CEC together with the Center for Electoral Training organized online and offline training for members of territorial election commissions, members of district election commissions and members of polling stations. The focus was not only on professional knowledge, but also on communication skills. One of the results of the training was a high evaluation of the work of election commissions. In addition, the OSCE report praised the level of electoral training during the presidential elections last year. In general, we can say that, as a result of this extensive work, the current election was held with fewer remarks," said Bukanova.

Kairzhan Abdykhalykov, professor of KBTU, PhD in International Relations, believes that the role of observers has increased in the recent period due to legislative changes.

"A lot depends on them. That's why we, as an NGO, organized the education and training of 1,700 independent observers for the city of Almaty. Their subsequent experience has shown that we need to emphasise the training of candidates' proxies as well", said the expert.

Political scientist Assol Mirmanova said it is important for society to maintain stability through debate and pluralism of opinion.

"This will also be reflected in the Mazhilis, where differences of opinion must be resolved through constructive dialogue. The main vector of political discourse passes to the lower house, it will become the leading force in Parliament. The main work on discussion and development of bills will take place here," said Mirmanova.

Alibek Tazhibayev, Director of the Eurasian Monitoring Analytical Research Center, said that we have made serious steps, which allow us to call Kazakhstan a country of emerging democracy.

"The past elections allow us to positively assess the reforms that have been undertaken in the last few years. We hope to see a 'toothy' Parliament. After all, truth is born in a dispute. It is truth that we will strive for," Tazhibaev said.
Summing up, the Vice-President of the Altynsarin National Academy of Education Nurbek Pusyrmanov noted that the people's representation received its development in the past elections due to the implemented reforms.

"The work of maslikhats is strengthened through the transfer of a number of powers to the level of local government. They also participate in decision-making at the highest level through the election of deputies to the Senate," the speaker concluded.

An important stage on the way of political modernization
The parliamentary elections of March 19, 2023 were the next step on the way of political modernization. The message of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev March 16, 2022 launched a period of intensive political transformations. In the past year a referendum on constitutional amendments, presidential elections, and elections to the Senate of the Parliament were held. Ahead of us is the formation of a new Mazhilis and Maslikhats, which will already determine the composition of the Government.

All this is the result of political reforms initiated by the Head of State. The past electoral cycle has shown that the decisions taken meet the society's demand for changes. The updated Constitution and electoral legislation allowed citizens not only to vote, but also to be elected. The large number of self-nominated candidates in single-mandate districts is an important indicator of civic engagement. But there were even more election observers. Political reforms have had a significant impact on civil society activity and have revived public politics in Kazakhstan.

The exit polls already allow us to talk about the expansion of pluralism in the Parliament - the Mazhilis will consist of 5 or 6 parties. Auyl and Respublica parties gained the status of "parliamentary" parties. At the same time, the newcomers gained more votes than their experienced colleagues – PPK and Aq Jol. This means that their influence in the decision-making process will change, as well as the level of funding. At the same time, it is necessary to wait for the results of the elections in single-mandate districts, in which both self-nominated candidates and members of parties participated.

Already now we can confidently talk about the qualitatively new composition of the Parliament. Time will show how much effective the new convocation of Mazhilis will be but the deputies have all the necessary resources.

Ermek Toktarov
Head of the Strategic Analysis Department
Head of the Strategic Analysis Department
at the KISI under the President of Kazakhstan.
Elections - Fundamental Principle of Democracy.
The state, on the threshold of a new political moment, has made one of important steps on the way to building a just society. An important step in this direction was the extraordinary election of deputies to the Mazhilis.
The elections are the foundation of democracy, a good basis and impetus to work towards achieving the declared goals on renewal and further modernization of the country's development. And it is important to note that elections are one of the key areas of political reforms carried out in the country.

The parliamentary elections held in Kazakhstan were in the focus of foreign experts. In order to control the electoral process more than 800 observers from 40 states and 12 international organizations visited Kazakhstan. Most of the missions were from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. A total of 331 observers. More than 230 foreign media representatives disseminated information about the political campaign. In addition, trustees of parties and candidates from single-mandate districts closely monitored the fair conduct of the elections.

All observers in their speeches emphasize that the elections were organized and without violations of electoral legislation. They note the transparency, transparency on a competitive basis, compliance with international standards and all the necessary conditions for the implementation of the electoral rights of citizens.

Today it is more important than ever to improve the system of political governance, which is possible only if the potential of civil society is involved.
Civic activity is the main driving force of sustainable development of the country. There should be a two-way communication between the citizens and the government, and as the electoral turnout showed, the citizens of the country were responsible enough to vote.

The key positive moment is, firstly, the activity of Kazakh voters, or, in other words, high electoral culture and consolidation of citizens around the main political event of the country, and secondly, their maturity in political respect and in requirements to the candidates.

A great deal is being done to democratize Kazakhstan. A balance between the various institutions of power is being established. The elections demonstrated that the freedom of choice of the people and the mechanisms of democracy are being formed in society. All this shows that the people hope for all the changes to come.

Aizhan Moldagalieva
Senior Expert
KISI under the President
of the Republic of Kazakhstan
The Multiparty Parliament: New Realities
While final results of the March 19 parliamentary elections are being summed up, we can reflect on the results of exit-polls. Results of 3 exit-polls have been already published - those of the Institute of Eurasian Integration, "Socis-A" and the Institute of Democracy. The following leaders have been found in all three polls: Amanat, Auyl, Respublica, and the People's Party of Kazakhstan. According to two surveys, NSDP also entered the Parliament.
Thus, according to the preliminary results, the parties with dispersion on the scale of the political spectrum got into the new composition of Mazhilis. With this in mind, we can say that the reset of the political system has taken place. Institutions of power of all branches renewed in terms of personnel will start their full-scale work in the improved normative field. The task of new parties is to get involved in active inter-electoral work, to form their monitoring services, to work with their target audiences.

The work of Mazhilis will also show to what extent the parties which have been operating for a long time have revised their approaches to work in new conditions. Can they, for example, add issue-based to their territorial work?
Pluralism of parties in the Mazhilis and participation of single-mandate members who are oriented towards constructive work will determine the viability of political transformations of the past year. Since these changes allowed reformatting the political field of Kazakhstan.

It is important, that the received impulse of activity grew in sustainable activity of political parties in Kazakhstan, in order that all who passed the crucible of elections, became a real political force. Already today they must get ready for the next elections, increasing the experience and potential of political struggle, having outlined the electoral categories and coming up to the next parliamentary elections with scaled and worked out political agendas.

Tatiana LIPINA
Senior Expert
Kazakhstan Institute of
Strategic Studies
under the President of the RK
Elections as an opportunity for open political competition
Extraordinary elections to representative bodies of power of all levels were held in Kazakhstan under the mixed electoral system. However, not only the implementation of elections in single-mandate districts, but in general the whole course of the election campaign and the results of the voting showed that in our country there is a field for open political competition.

First and foremost, such competition concerns political parties. After all, it is they, realizing the dual role of an institution of both civil society and the political world, that are called upon to articulate the interests of their social base and present approaches to solving the country's pressing problems.
Political parties of Kazakhstan used different strategies and technologies to campaign for their political programs, including participation in TV debates.
Political competition also applies to candidates under the majoritarian system. Here it should be noted that many candidates should still learn how to conduct election campaigns - from the content of the program to the production of visual campaign products. Personally, as a voter, I missed the traditional meetings of candidates with voters, where one could ask questions to a candidate and learn his program better.

The large number of single-mandate candidates nevertheless intensified the competition for the deputy mandate: different slogans were heard - loud and modest, bold and inconspicuous, populist and sensible; a campaign was conducted in social networks, various discussions and interviews were arranged. However, the candidates who took into account citizens' requests in their programs received the greatest support.

Both political parties and candidates under the majoritarian system participated in an open competition for the votes of the Kazakhstani voters. They had many different opportunities to convey their ideas to the electorate and to present a sensible political program. Which of them managed to do it better can be seen by the results of voting.

The elections showed that in terms of competition of ideas and decisions the parties, public associations and activists have a lot to grow and develop, especially in establishing a feedback with the electorate. Also elections showed that Kazakhstani elector could make conscious and responsible choice.

KISI under the RK President
Resetting of Political System
With elections to Mazhilis of the Parliament of the RK and Maslikhats ended a large-scale electoral cycle, which has implemented the process of resetting the political system and qualitative renovation of state governance institutions.

The large-scale electoral cycle began last autumn with presidential elections, continued in winter of this year with elections to the Senate of the Parliament of the RK and will end with summing up the results of the parliamentary elections. In addition, a nationwide referendum on constitutional reform was held in 2022. The conditions for the establishment of political parties and their participation in the electoral process were simplified. A mixed electoral system was introduced, allowing self-nominated candidates to participate in the elections. All this was the result of liberal political reforms initiated by the President of Kazakhstan.

The final stage in the renewal of the political system will be the formation of a new Government, which will obviously include new faces.

In general, the past elections demonstrated a rather bright and active competitive campaign where the degree of struggle, along with seven parties, was raised by numerous single-mandate candidates. This contributed to a pluralism of opinion.

As a result, a multi-party Parliament will be formed, representing a broader palette of opinions, positions and views of representatives of society. According to exit polls, 6 parties were elected to the Mazhilis of the RK Parliament.

Thus the level of feedback between the society and power has qualitatively expanded, as well as the opportunities for citizens to participate in the political decision-making process.

Senior Expert
KISI under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan