Kazakhstan: Early parliamentary elections raise a lot of hope

A man walks past a board with official campaign posters of upcoming candidates in parliamentary and regional elections on a street in Almaty, Kazakhstan, March 15, 2023. REUTERS - PAVEL MIKHEYEV

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Early parliamentary elections this Sunday, March 19 in Kazakhstan. Nearly 12 million voters are called to the polls to elect the deputies of the Majilis, the lower house of parliament and the Mazlikhats, the local parliaments. The National Assembly was dissolved three months ago by President Tokayev, who was re-elected in November with more than 80% of the vote in a presidential election without competition. The election raises a lot of hopes for Kazakhs, who hope to see the promises of democratic change and modernisation of the country materialise.


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Coincidence of calendar, it is on March 19, 2019 that former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, at the helm of Kazakhstan for nearly three decades, decides to throw in the towel. After bloody protests last year that left more than 230 dead, his successor Kassym Jomart Tokayev, winner of two presidential elections hands down, is launching far-reaching political and economic reforms.

The process begins in June, with a constitutional referendum, adopted with more than 75% of the vote, supposed to close the Nazarbayev era and give more powers to parliament.

These legislative elections are organized according to new rules aimed at promoting competition, including a simplified procedure for the registration of political parties, an eligibility threshold that increases from 7 to 5%, the possibility for each region to have a deputy in the Assembly or the authorization of independent candidates to stand in the elections, a first for this Central Asian country, four times the France.

Critics of the regime, however, refuse to believe in a genuine desire to reduce the powers of the president and encourage pluralism. After the election, however, two new parties, ecologist and centre-right, are due to enter Parliament.

Read also US Secretary of State Antony Blinken shows his support for Kazakhstan

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  • Kazakhstan
  • Noursoultan Nazarbaïev
  • Kassym-Jomart Tokayev