PRESS RELEASE, TRAVEL NEWS – December 28, 2020: Kazakhstan goes to polls for economic reform – 19 million Kazakhs elect from five parties to parliament on January 10.
Kazakhstan elects a new parliament on January 10. It is the eighth democratic election since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and its subsequent independence. During the TV debate on December 30, five parties compete for the vote of the Kazakh citizen. The economy and democratization are the main agenda items.
Kazakhstan, with 2.724.902 square kilometers it ninth largest country in the world, calls for elections to parliament. The first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, resigned in 2019 and was succeeded by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. The Kazakhs can use their vote to determine which parties will occupy the Majilis (House of Representatives) for the next five years. Five parties participate. Voting is done analogously, applying strict corona security measures.
Diverse Party Programs
The five parties place a great deal of emphasis on economic recovery after the corona crisis in their programs, but are also doing their best to clearly profile themselves. The ruling party Nur Otan focuses on improving the quality of life of citizens, health care and the social safety net. The European-oriented Ak Zhol party speaks out on the reform of Kazakh politics, for example by giving parliament and the people more say.
The (originally communist) People's Party of Kazakhstan is committed to the availability and quality of education and medicines and wants to lower the retirement age to sixty years. The eco-socialist Adal wants a dignified life for all citizens, entrepreneurship as the basis of a successful state and a better agro-industry for food security. Finally, the agricultural party Auyl is committed to a higher standard of living in the countryside and better infrastructure, so that productivity can be increased in favor of the country.
The Republic of Kazakhstan has a relatively young democracy. The first government was elected in 1995 and since then the country has been making important steps democratically, largely under the leadership of former president Nursultan Nazarbayev. He made progress in the economic field, among other things, with the establishment of the New Silk Road and the co-establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union. Politically, Nazarbayev has been responsible for the closure of nuclear weapons test areas and has been instrumental in resolving international disputes.
President Tokayev recently passed a number of important laws to strengthen democracy. Under the credo of "Different Opinions – One Nation", he amended regulations, including allowing announced peaceful protests, halving the registration threshold of a new political party (from 40.000 to 20.000 members) and a mandatory quota of 30 percentage of women and young people on lists of election parties. “The country is overcoming the fear of an alternative opinion,” said Tokayev.
The new parliament will not face an easy task. Like other countries, Kazakhstan has been hit hard by the corona pandemic. The government may have launched a stimulus package, but according to the World Bank, economic growth can only recover after the pandemic has subsided. According to the organization, gross domestic product (GDP) grew by four and a half percent in 2019. It is estimated to shrink by 2020% in XNUMX.
President Tokayev, announcing the election in mid-November, said: “The severe economic crisis caused by the pandemic has affected many countries and negatively impacted the entire global economy. In these challenging times, Kazakhstan needs to take effective anti-crisis measures to ensure sustainable economic development, social well-being of our citizens and improve people's prosperity. I therefore encourage all citizens to come and vote on January 10.”
Legality and transparency
Currently, the Nur Otan Party has a majority of 84 deputies in the Majilis, the Ak Zhol and the People's Communist Party have seven deputies each. It is hard to say whether the corona crisis will cause any shifts, but the president promises to ensure a fair election anyway and has invited XNUMX international organizations to observe, including the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the CIS Executive Committee and CSTO.
In addition to parliament, local governments will be elected on January 10. This is happening for the first time on the basis of party lists, which, according to Tokayev, "will enable parties to strengthen their position in the country's political system."