Political Analysts Predict Heightened Debate Intensity in New Parliament of Kazakhstan

2nd of March, 2023

One of the biggest political events of this year in Kazakhstan is coming - Mazhilis elections. The president himself believes that they will open a new milestone in the history of parliamentarism in Kazakhstan. But along with those who believe and hope, there are always skeptics. Liter.kz gathered expectations of political analysts from the upcoming elections.

Degree and Intensity of Discussions Will Rise

Political analyst Gaziz Abishev said that the parliament will be renewed by more than half - the lists of candidates show that. But will they be bright, bold and ready for open debate in plenary sessions? The Kazakhstani people can expect "a more heated and heated debate," he said.

All deputies who will be elected by party lists, of course, will be subject to party discipline, otherwise they will simply be deprived of their parliamentary mandate. And in this sense, deputies will be subject to the will of their chairmen. But this is natural. But at the same time, the parties themselves are under great pressure from public opinion, and the leadership will not be able to go too much against this public opinion. Because things have moved on to a different stage," he says.

If strong public opposition-minded independent candidates from the constituencies (Almaty, Astana and elsewhere) get elected, "they will certainly stir up Parliament by making statements in the media and by arguing their case during plenary sessions and working groups," the political analyst said.

They all have social media. And in this way they will set some standard, which will inevitably affect the party majority, the parties, which will also have to respond to citizens," said Gaziz Abishev.

A Lot of New Young People

Another political scientist Zamir Karazhanov, however, believes that it is impossible to unequivocally answer what the newly elected deputies will be like.

Parliament will be renewed - that's for sure; there are a lot of young people on party lists. But whether they will be brave or not depends on the deputies themselves. And on the parties. Still, a great role is played by the will of the deputies and party organizations. Whether the deputies themselves are ready to work in such a format. Because in any country parliament has three functions - legislative, control and representative. In our country all three points were always suffering. Legislatively, to say that Mazhilis has been developing laws on its own, this process is mainly accumulated in the Government. The same is true of the control and representative functions," reflected the political scientist.

If we develop other, non-partisan institutions, we could gain even more influence over Parliament, he said.

Non-partisan institutions will give people more opportunities to influence the process and the work, including the representative, legislative bodies. Such mechanisms should be developed. Then the population will have another channel to influence life in the country," believes Zamir Karazhanov.

"Previously, the opposition parties failed to form a coalition in Parliament." Kazbek Maigeldinov, member of the National Kurultai, political scientist, reminded that this year the Tokayev reforms, started in 2019, continue. There was a referendum, extraordinary presidential elections, and now to the maslikhats and Mazhilis.

All this is done in order to reboot, to make an upgrade of the political system and the state apparatus. To bring in new people and new elite. And the next step is to hold early elections to the Mazhilis and Maslikhats. In this sense, the most important innovation is the change in the electoral system: a mixed proportional-majoritarian system. The main intrigue will probably be among the candidates under the majoritarian system. We had this system 20 years ago. However, several generations have grown up who did not vote for real deputies in the Mazhilis, and, accordingly, the introduction of a mixed system, especially at the Mazhilis level - by 30%, regional Maslikhats - by 50%, and city and district ones - by 100%, indicates that new faces will come,” he said.

Every region has its own active citizens, he said. And the political activism of Kazakhstanis has increased since the January events.

Indeed, the political maturity of Kazakhstan's people has grown by leaps and bounds. The main of the three branches of power is the Mazhilis, and the development of the institution of parliamentarism is the foundation of the foundations," added Kazbek Maigeldinov.

It is worth noting that there are two new parties in the current political race. This is done so that political pluralism and especially new political forces come to the legislative body. At the same time, the threshold for political parties has been lowered from seven to five percent.

Accordingly, after the elections, we will see new parties already in the Majilis itself. The new parties must show their potential. As far as they manage to hold their electoral period, so will be the support. For the new political forces mean new expectations," the expert says.

And of course, the new forces represented by the 29 "majority" must really make the Mazhilis proactive.

I hope we will see active debates, speeches and work in the Mazhilis,” added the political analyst.

He also stressed that the assessment of deputies' performance, especially of those in the "first-past-the-post", is regulated by law, by the imperative mandate. That is, there is responsibility from both sides - from the deputies, and from the voters, who have placed their hopes on them.