The elections are over. The preliminary results are in. A number of radical bloggers were named Amanat’s members, but six parties entered the Parliament, one of which was in opposition, the Nationwide Social Democratic Party. The NSDP called the party's 5.2% of the vote only the first step on the arduous road to true democracy.
"These elections will go down in the history of the country. For the first time in the history of independent Kazakhstan, not a decorative, but a real opposition party will be represented in Parliament. In conditions of real, tough party competition, despite all unsuccessful attempts to hinder us, the Nationwide Social Democratic Party managed to win deserved seats in the Mazhilis of the Parliament. The start has been made, the opposition is now in the Parliament," the NSDP statement said.
Baitak Green Party, which lost these elections without reproaches and complaints, stated its readiness to continue working on the proposed program with its own forces and its responsibility before its constituents. "Thanks to the political reforms of the President of Kazakhstan we managed to register Baitak party after seven years of unsuccessful attempts. During the last pre-election month our team toured all the regions of Kazakhstan. We collected and included in the program of the party about 500 urgent issues raised by the people. The party did not make it to Parliament. But Baitak will continue to work on the proposed program by its own forces. I wish the new Parliament to work for the benefit of the country," wrote Baitak Green Party’s Chairman Azamatkhan Amirtayev in social network.
Amanat party has reduced its presence in the Mazhilis compared to the previous convocation, gaining 53.9% of the vote against 71.09% in January 2021. This means that the competitive struggle between the representatives of the six parties in the parliament takes place. The brighter these representatives fight for the interests of the people, the greater the chance of changing the balance of power in the future. It will not be boring for sure.
Elections in single-mandate constituencies, where thanks to President Tokayev's reforms, independent candidates had an opportunity to be nominated, aroused even more interest. As noted by the public activist Murat Abenov, the fight was most acute in Almaty, where there were many bright candidates, from different spheres, with different experiences, some of them have very high media recognition, including their name and experience of participation in public political projects.
"Some of them I know personally, there are some people I am close with and I am sure of their great potential. It was even regrettable that such candidates with high electability potential ended up at the same polling station," commented Murat Abenov.
Independent deputies are the antipodes of lobbyists, of which we saw a great deal over 30 years, and through the fault of which common citizens of Kazakhstan developed persistent distrust in elections, mistrust to people's elected representatives and to the authorities in general.
The lowest turnout for the current elections, on the other hand, can also testify to the fact that the institute of independent observers is being strengthened in the country, thanks to which ballot stuffing and ‘carousel’ were excluded, as well as the vote counting was more accurate. Now the main task is to change the mindset of citizens, to raise self-awareness, the passive masses must become a thing of the past.
Aida Jeksenova, the blogger and Head of El Dauysy Public Fund, who nominated her candidacy to the Astana Maslikhat, was rather tough and straightforward in this regard. By the way, she was withdrawn from the election race because of the inaccuracies in her tax declaration, which she herself confirmed.
"Now I understand why the turnout was low because in order to go to the elections, you have to think consciously, for whom to vote, to read at least a couple of programs, to compare, make conclusions and choose a decision. So there are less and less of these people, and more and more of those who are fighting for free plov. And there are others who sit at home and wait for the majority to make the right choice for them," the former deputy candidate said in her heart.
Well, let it be a bitter, but a healing pill. The most important thing is to learn a lesson. The good thing in this situation is that all the politically active groups were watching the elections.
The OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission issued a statement on the preliminary results of the Mazhilis and Maslikhats elections, noting dynamic progress, but much remains to be done. According to Irene Haralambides, Special Coordinator and Head of the OSCE short-term election observation mission, more than 300 observers from the mission worked throughout the country on March 19.
According to her, the legal framework of Kazakhstan has undergone a number of changes, taking into account previous ODIHR recommendations. Changes have been made and choices for voters have been expanded. It is necessary to continue making adjustments to the legal framework to ensure democratic elections.
"We have seen some positive developments, but there is still a lot to be done. It's a dynamic process. Reform is not something that can be implemented quickly overnight. It is something that requires real effort from both the authorities and the citizens," Irene Haralambides added.
"The early parliamentary elections of 2023 took place in the context of reforms initiated to bring Kazakhstan closer to holding elections in accordance with international standards and OSCE commitments. Amendments to the legislation took into account several previous ODIHR recommendations and broadened the choices for voters. However, further changes in the legal framework are needed to provide a sufficient basis for the conduct of democratic elections," the OSCE/ODIHR Mission said in a statement.
Newly elected members of parliament will now have to form a new government, which should be a government of popular confidence.
The new Government and Parliament must ensure the implementation of the Presidential election platform, the growth of prosperity, defeat inflation and establish a trajectory of sustainable investment growth.
Source: Zhan Daradi
NIKA Group Perspective Research Center