On April 26, 2015, Kazakhstan held early presidential elections, which was initiated by the Majilis members of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan (APK). The President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Leader of the Nation, Nursultan Nazarbayev won a landslide victory in presidential elections against the two other candidates by a large margin. According to the Central Election Commission (CEC), the leader of the ruling party Nur Otan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, won with 97.75% of total votes. His opponents - Turgun Syzdykov, nominated by the Communist People’s Party, and the independent candidate Abelgazi Kusainov gathered 1.61% and 0.64% of total votes, respectively.
The very idea to conduct early presidential elections was cause by the need to avoid the collision of holding presidential and parliamentary elections at the same year (both scheduled for 2016), which would be unconstitutional. The proposal to hold elections just during the two years in Nazarbayev's leadership was also made in order to tackle with the difficult economic situation in the country.
It should be admitted that current presidential elections has a number of specific features such as:
Unprecedented high voter turnout – According to the CEC, out of 9 547 864 registered voters 9 090 920 or 95.21% took part in the voting. Such high voter turnout was recorded for the first time in history of independent Kazakhstan;
High level of voter support for Nazarbayev’s reelection – only during the first presidential elections in 1991, Nursultan Nazarbayev won the race for presidency with higher level of population support – 98.7% of total votes. After a decline in the rates during the presidential campaign of 1999 (79.78% of total votes), the level of trust for the Leader of the Nation has increased among the citizens. Nursultan Nazarbayev won elections in 2005 and 2011 with 91.15% and 95.5% of total votes, respectively.
Current presidential elections was positively assessed by the world community, in general and international observers, in particular. In total, the CEC accredited 858 observers, who represented 37 foreign states and following international organizations: OSCE / ODIHR, Missions of CIS, SCO and OIC, Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States, Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-speaking countries. In addition, 168 representatives of foreign media have received accreditation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Nursultan Nazarbayev officially started the fifth presidential term on 29 April, 2015. His reelection proves population's support of declared democratic reforms in the country, which aim to improving the effectiveness and the efficiency of governmental bodies, especially, the Parliament.
According to the Constitution of Kazakhstan, the Parliament comprises of two Chambers: the Senate (47 members) and the Mazhilis (107 members). The Senate is composed of 32 elected members (two from each fourteen provinces and the cities of republican significance – Almaty and Astana) and 15 other members appointed by the President of Kazakhstan. In the Mazhilis 98 members are elected through a closed-list proportional representation system and 9 other are elected by the APK.
Nowadays, parliamentary system development in Kazakhstan could be divided into two stages – before and after 2007. In 2007, in order to strengthen the political parties in the country, the governmental authorities conducted constitutional reform, which promoted the introduction of the 7 percent threshold for every political party that is volunteered to take part in the race for seats in the Mazhilis. Combining with the amendments in the Law on Political Parties in 2002, which leaded to increase the number of registered members of a political party from 3000 to 50000, there was a reduction in the number of political parties which could be competitive to the fatherland party Nur Otan (former name Otan). As a results of the elections to the Mazhilis in 1999 there were elected representatives of 4 political parties, namely, Otan, Civil, Agrarian and Communist parties. In 2004, the number of political parties has increased to 5, namely, Otan, Asar, Ak zhol, Democratic parties and electoral bloc AIST.
In 2007 only the Nur Otan Party reached the 7 percent threshold which was against the expectations of the policy makers over OSCE because of the restriction in the legislation that not less than two parties would take part in the Parliament. Due to this restriction, the 2009 amendments to the Law on elections required that the party with the second-highest vote would count automatically receive seats in the Mazhilis, even if it failed to reach the 7 percent threshold.
After the election of 2012, three political parties had the opportunity to take part in the Parliament by reaching above 7 percent threshold, namely People’s Democratic Party “Nur Otan” (80.99%), the Democratic Party of Kazakhstan “Ak Zhol” (7.47%) and Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan (CPPK) (7.19%). In this way, Kazakhstan committed itself to legislative reforms, especially in the area of politics.
In conclusion, Kazakhstan has been taking serious steps in the process of improving its legistlative and political system. Especially, after the last presidential election, with the leadership of Nazarbayev, the efforts to carry out the system in a democratization process will increase to a large extent.
Note: The views expressed in this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the Institute's editorial policy.
Issayeva Meyramgul Ibadullayevna was born in 7th November, 1977, in South Kazakhstan region, Turkestan city. In 1998 finished secondary school named after Ulugbek with honor. Graduated from Kazakh National Pedagogical University named after Abay in speciality of Law.