The 2023 elections will bring the majority back to reality - the political scientist

February 22, 2023

Daniyar Ashimbayev, Kazakh political scientist, analyzed electoral opportunities of the parties before the elections to the maslikhats and Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan has already completed the nomination of candidates for early elections to the Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan and maslikhats of all levels, which will be held on March 19. A total of seven political parties are running for election.

According to the Central Election Commission, the party lists are:
· 52 candidates from the People's Party of Kazakhstan;
· 54 candidates from the Aq Jol DPK;
· 19 candidates from the NSDP;
· 18 candidates from the Baitak green party;
· 25 candidates from the Auyl People's Democratic Patriotic Party;
· 25 candidates from the Respublica party;
· 90 candidates from the Amanat Party;
609 candidates are in single-mandate districts. Including 79 people from seven political parties, five from four public associations, and 525 self-nominated candidates.

Political scientist Daniyar Ashimbayev studied the party lists and suggested what they should expect in the electoral field.

Daniyar Ashimbayev:
Daniyar Ashimbayev, photo from his personal Facebook page
The pre-election situation is quite peculiar. The population treats the parties indifferently. This is largely due to the fact that the same maslikhats were not visible to the voter at all, and the Mazhilis is established in the public consciousness not by laws, but by speeches on topical issues.

The situation here is peculiar. A number of Amanat deputies are well known to voters, although Zhamalov, the main speaker of the faction on economics, is not going to the new convocation. Professional fighters with Old Kazakhstan do not cause much enthusiasm and trust. The former speaker Koshanov is well known.

The problem of Amanat, firstly, is the novelty of the brand, and secondly, that the faction tried to be correct towards a very unpopular government. In the latter, it should be noted that only one person enjoyed authority in society – Aimagambetov, a former Minister of the Ministry of Education, whose arrival in the party really strengthened it before the elections.

As for the brand – its promotion is underway, and it is recognized, but Amanat cannot use the term 'Tokayev's party', and references to the former name Nur Otan can have the opposite effect.
Aq Jol has a more or less stable electorate. Its leader Peruashev and a number of other deputies are well known. It is obvious that the newcomers will choose this party as the target of their attacks in order to take the electorate away. At the same time, Peruashev is a strong debater and is ready for disputes.

The core electorate of the People's Party of Kazakhstan (PPK) was tied to its faction. Scandals connected with Yertysbayev's activity practically crossed out all the achievements. On the one hand, Konurov and Smirnova remained in the lists, but on the other hand, Yertysbayev and a strange mix of individuals, who came along with him, are also included in the group.

Auyl, the traditional outsider, in addition to the conversations about 40% of the population living in rural areas (and never voting for them), and an absolutely uncharismatic leader, has an upper hand in the form of two ex-presidential candidates – Dairabayev and Abden, which can give them parliamentary perspectives for once, but on the brink.

It is difficult to say something about the NSDP: the only more or less recognizable person in the party is its deputy chairman Alibayev.
The lists of newcomers – Respublika and Baitak are very eclectic. There is no stable asset, clear ideology and recognition as a phenomenon, and they will be recruited within a month of campaigning. Here the prospects can be very broad, but it seems that they measure their popularity and chances through social networks, and this is a rather distorted mirror. It is difficult to assess their real chances, although the effect of novelty and obvious political support from above makes them non-zero.

It should be understood that local authorities are unlikely to be able to help more than one party and will be more busy with elections to maslikhats. This factor should not be underestimated.

In general, it is better to divide the elections to the mazhilis and maslikhats in the future by time with so many ballots and competition. The process of counting votes will be very ambiguous. It is possible to predict numerous courts and scandals, and accusations of low legitimacy of future single-mandate candidates, because some will be able to win with 15-20% of the votes.

On the other hand, the party and electoral system will have to be tested by these elections. Basically, it is unpleasant for the system, but it is very useful for a significant number of independent and critical deputies to enter the parliament and maslikhats.

The parties mostly did not bet on those whom the voter would like to see in parliament, but on those who wanted to get there for various reasons. Perhaps, the 2023 election will be a sobering lesson for everyone.

The completion of the nomination process makes it possible to assess who the parties want to present to the population as potential people's deputies.

The problem is the lack of complete information about the education, employment, and age of the candidates. Nationality and gender can be determined at least by names, although gender is nowadays also difficult to assess, taking into account modern manners.
The Amanat reported on compliance with the introduced quotas. The PPK published a list with all the data, and the discrepancy in the youth quota was noticeable at once. The rest limited themselves to last names, but sometimes search engines can't help identifying the candidates - they are too new.

The Amanat and the Aq Jol can allow succession, but the previous faction of the PPK collapsed in a manner that was quite disreputable.

Party activists, primarily from the regions, make up a large stratum in the lists of the Amanat, the Aq Jol, the NSPK and the Auyl. In the Respublika and the Baitak, it is rather pointless to evaluate this indicator.

The Amanat and the Aq Jol are also different in that they have nominated many deputies of maslikhats.

The Respublika faction has a higher representation of women, while Amanat an international composition (As some of colleagues have observed, the Amanat faction includes almost all well-known Slavs who speak Kazakh).

Representatives of socially significant professions, pensioners (excluding party leaders), and ordinary workers are not particularly prominent or noticeable within the factions. There is a distinct layer of individuals who are capable of handling the financial demands of running for parliament.
There are many individuals who evoke genuine bewilderment, but this can perhaps be attributed to the notion of "I am an artist – this is just how I see things."

Overall, based on the available data, it is challenging for anyone to give the party list a "five-star" rating.

The Amanat, the Aq Jol and the Auyl have made an effort. The rest are currently rated as average.
At the same time, it should be noted that the Amanat positions itself as a nationwide force, moreover, it has made full coverage of all possible districts. The Aq Jol faction appears to have a greater focus on entrepreneurship, but as past experience has shown, more people in urban areas tend to vote for the Auyl, perhaps due to a sense of nostalgia. The PPK used to be perceived as a left-wing and international platform, but the new leadership has lost both of these concepts. Respublika seems to be a party of "newcomers," representing a relatively narrow segment of the population with low electoral discipline. Baitak identifies itself as an environmental party (or more precisely, a "green" party), which is commendable, but raises questions about its ability to mobilize the electorate. The NSDP does not resemble either the traditional Social Democratic parties or the opposition factions.

From the standpoint of an "ideal" parliament, there are some very respectable individuals in all parties. However, the problem lies in the fact that each of them is accompanied by a rather peculiar addendum.