Poll Shows Most Kazakhs Feel Positive about the Future

imagesASTANA – According to the recently published opinion poll by IPSOS Mori, a leading market research company from the U.K., 86 percent of Kazakhstan’s citizens are optimistic about the future of the country. Most respondents expressed satisfaction with the direction of the country’s development and regarded the economy positively.

The research, carried out between Sept. 27 and Oct. 16 of this year, showed that 86 percent of ordinary citizens feel “positive” about Kazakhstan in general, while 35 percent describe the situation in the country as “very positive.”

The development of the country’s economy was also estimated as “good” and 81 percent of respondents said they feel the country has become a better place to live over the past 10 years, mentioning such aspects of everyday life as the gradual elimination of corruption and rising general standards of living.

Respondents were asked to rate life in Kazakhstan today and compare it to 10 years ago. Satisfaction ratings over the 10-year period often doubled and increased by nearly sixfold in several cases. Job opportunities were rated as “good” 10 years ago by 18 percent of the population; 36 percent say they are good today. Thirty-six percent of the population say transport infrastructure is good today versus six percent for 10 years ago.

Survey respondents were also asked to name major challenges they are facing now. Most respondents (26 percent) said employment was their most pressing issue, while for 15 percent the main problem remains housing. Human rights and democratic reforms were identified as challenging by five and two percent of Kazakhs, respectively.

Stability and peacefulness were included in the top 17 descriptive terms associated with the country by more than a third of respondents. Moreover, an overwhelming majority of citizens agreed that their children’s generation will have more opportunities than their own.

Regarding Kazakhstan’s global standing, 50 percent said the country has “greatly improved” and 90 percent said they supported Kazakhstan’s participation in international trade, with 54 percent expressing “strong support.”

Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov said he was “delighted that this far-reaching research, which was carried out throughout Kazakhstan on a scientific basis, has resulted in such a positive endorsement by the people of our country’s steady progress in the last 10 years. We note these results with satisfaction but no sense of complacency, and hope that our international allies share the same approach.”

Noteworthy is the positive estimation of Kazakhstan’s development expressed by the generation that experienced life in the USSR.

“New horizons appeared for us in 1991 that were unreachable before. Of course, all the hardships we faced after the collapse of the Soviet Union didn’t allow us to reach everything we wanted, but we became free to choose our own destiny. People started to be free to choose their life paths. That was a tremendous change, something like a turning point,” Deputy Director at Kazakhstan TV Marat Raimkhanov, who turned 31 in December, said in an interview.

According to Raimkhanov, the first years of independence were a true challenge for all Kazakhs, but people learned to work hard, to be purposeful and rely on themselves. He called the country’s economic growth and positive international image major achievements.

“Kazakhstan became the initiator of a global dialogue between civilizations. Today, our state has to continue developing democratic reforms and supporting liberal values. We have to establish a true civil society in order to be competitive and successful. This delicate task has to be solved by my generation,” Raimkhanov, who did his master’s degree at the London School of Economics, explained. And past success is no reason to stop. Quoting Benjamin Franklin, he said, “When you are finished changing, you’re finished.”

“We have to be purposeful, honest and passionate about what we do. We have to try to reach unreachable goals and think differently. Only then all the goals will be within the range of our abilities,” Raimkhanov concluded.

The sense of youthful optimism is even stronger among those who were born as the country was just becoming independent.

22-year-old Nursultan Akhmediya, a student of political science at the University of Vienna and one of the leaders of the Kazakh Student Association in Austria expressed his strong belief in the future of Kazakhstan and the new opportunities the country can give to its young generation.

“If you look back, you can see how many changes we’ve come through over the past 22 years. Since the 1990s, we have improved the quality of our life dramatically. In my opinion, major changes have happened in the everyday life of our citizens,” Akhmediya said. Born in December 1991, Akhmediya said his worldview changed along with his growing country’s.

“I do believe every generation has its own mission. Our parents laid the first stone of our independence, so we have to continue developing the newborn state. Our mission is to build new cities, plant trees around them and raise new generations. And I also do believe that we have worthy sons of our country who will contribute to creating a better future for Kazakhstan,” Akhmediya said.  He named interethnic and interreligious tolerance, which he called the basis for further development and prosperity, as the main accomplishments of the past 22 years.

“Some can say that in comparison to, say, Singapore, our country may have reached more goals. I believe each nation has its own unique way of development and there is no need to compare one state with another. In my opinion, Kazakhstan has successfully overcome most of its obstacles and become one of the most successful nations in Central Asia,” Akhmediya said. In the future, he said, he hopes his peers will identify clear goals, work hard to reach them and think creatively.