Elections in Kazakhstan: Would ruling Nur Otan party succeed again?

Author : Kateryna Odarchenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

Since 2007, Nur Otan has been taking more than half of the votes in the elections to the Majlis
23:05, 1 September 2020

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Elections have always been an interesting period in every state. Of course, it is much more interesting to follow the electoral process in states where a change of power is inherent since the fate of the country is being decided there. But with the age of information technology, where everyone can find out the political situation in different states, it has become more difficult for the latter to hide, for example, electoral fraud. Many CIS countries closely followed the presidential elections in Russia. This is understandable because the Russian Federation is a big geopolitical player. However, the electoral process in neighboring countries is fascinating and useful for analytics.

Related: Kazakh capital Astana renamed into Nursultan

System of parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan

In 2021, Kazakhstan to hold parliamentary elections, as well as elections to the local bodies (maslikhat). According to the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the supreme legislative body consists of 2 chambers - the Senate (upper) and the Majlis (lower). Procedure for electing MPs to the Senate: 15 are appointed by the president, 34 are elected by indirect voting (through maslikhats), 2 from each region (14 regions), two cities of republican significance, and the capital. Of these 34, 17 MPs are re-elected every 3 years. The term of office of an MP of the Senate is 6 years. There are 49 MPs in total. As for the lower chamber (Majlis), here the principle of direct suffrage is mostly used, and this is what applies to 98 MPs, 9 are elected by the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan. The term of office of an MPs of the Majlis is 5 years. The last elections to the lower house were in 2016. As you can see, the date for new elections to the Majlis is near.

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Nur Otan to get 80% of votes again?

The political parties of Kazakhstan have begun their political race. In total, no more than three parties enter the parliament, namely the Majlis, since the People's Democratic Party Nur Otan (approximately 80%) takes the main votes, the rest of the parties must overcome the 7% barrier. Now such parties are the Ak Zhol Democratic Party of Kazakhstan and the Communist People's Party of Kazakhstan. Now the political situation in the country can be described as stable. So far, there are no prerequisites for a change of power, so Nur Otan has a high probability of taking the majority of parliamentary mandates.

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Nur Otan is a pro-presidential political party. Its chairman is Nursultan Nazarbayev, who remains in the office even after his resignation. And the current president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, was also nominated by this party. Since 2007, Nur Otan has been taking more than half of the votes in the elections to the Majlis (2007 - 88.41%, 2012 - 80.99%, 2016 - 82.20%). This indicator is typical for political parties supported by the president, especially in countries with signs of an authoritarian regime. But despite the resignation of Nursultan Nazarbayev, Nur Otan intends to once again collect a high percentage of electoral votes.

Related: Kazakhstan’s first president Nazarbayev diagnosed with Covid-19

Nur Otan’s trendy primaries

Primaries is an intra-party vote where one party candidate is elected. It is held between supporters of a political party. It is used in the USA and resembles a political show, which thereby activates the growth of interest in a political party and its candidates. Nur Otan party has been using the primaries system for the second time in a row. It takes place in 5 stages:

  • Nomination and registration of candidates.
  • Preparing candidates for campaigning.
  • Campaign work.
  • Preparing lists.

Voting will take place from 17 August to 3 October.

Related: Presidents of China, Russia, Kazakhstan congratulate Lukashenko on victory in elections

On the one hand, Nur Otan is trying to appear more democratic with the introduction of the primaries. The citizens of Kazakhstan believe that it is difficult to become a member of this political party even for smart people. And this leads to a large gap between civil society and the state. Perhaps this is Nur Otan's attempt to attract attention from ordinary people, as well as to attract new, young faces. Requests for the new faces is quite a popular trend. Kazakh society is also tired of the eternally similar people they have seen on TV for 13 years. In order to attract the new faces to Nur Otan, its chairpersons allowed candidates who are not members of their political party to participate in the primaries but only until the end of the registration period for participation, then they are still required to join it. For them, they even simplified the rules for obtaining party membership. However, there are a number of restrictions for entry, which mainly concerns criminal record, and yet there is an entertaining thesis. For example, if a person was previously expelled from the party for inaction or discredited it, he can no longer participate in the primaries. In turn, Nur Otan will add other candidates from party lists to the lists of winning candidates. This time, the Nur Otan League of Supporters, created in June 2020, would control the primaries. Another political benefit is the creation of quotas for youth and women. Party lists must include at least 30% of women and 20% of young people under 35. This will possibly help expand their electorate and raise loyalty levels.

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