Political life in Kazakhstan stands on the eve of an event of paramount importance for any country: a presidential election.
Over the last three weeks, the political parties, the Kazakh Parliament and expert community have become more active. The question is will President Nursultan Nazarbayev confirm he will run for re-election and who will be the other candidates?
The move for an early election began Feb. 14 when the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan (APK) proposed holding an early election this year, rather than the regularly scheduled election in 2016.
The APK initiative was formally announced and supported unanimously by the group’s delegates. The assembly justified its initiative on the basis that in these times of global crisis, the Kazakh society must unite and support the policies and strategies of its time-proven leader.
The country’s political parties and public organisations then supported the initiative of the APK. Among them are the ruling Nur Otan People’s Democratic Party, the pro-business Ak Zhol (Bright Path) Democratic Party, and others.
Most leaders of the political parties agree that the early presidential election is designed to strengthen political stability and social cohesion in Kazakhstan. The initiative was also supported by the Mazhilis (lower house of the Parliament) and the Senate (upper house of the Parliament). On Feb. 25, after consulting with the chairmen of the two houses, the prime minister and the chair of the Constitutional Council, President Nazarbayev announced his consent for an early election and set it up in line with the nation’s law to be held April 26.
The worsening global economic crisis is among the arguments in favour of an early election. Experts predict the global economic crisis will peak in 2016, so holding the regular election in the midst of a global crisis would have been undesirable.
The previous presidential election was also held earlier than usual. It was held April 3, 2011 and Nazarbayev won 95.55 percent of the votes.
However, experts predict that the current competition in the early presidential election can be serious. Thus, Bolat Baikadamov, a seasoned political analyst, in an interview with one of the local news agencies, said “Kazakhstan has passed the time when the president was elected among candidates who lagged behind him on a large distance in votes.”
“I think now is the time for those politicians who can compete for the post of President in our country. It all depends on what [type of] person will participate in the election. If this person is weighty and authoritative, of a large caliber, a political heavyweight, as the saying goes, then, of course, this person will pose serious competition to any other candidate, whether it is even the current head of state,” Baikadamov said.
In this case, another question arises: “What are the chances of the incumbent to become a winner again?” The chances are high. It is well-known that under the leadership of Nazarbayev, the nation was able to successfully overcome the crisis in the early 1990s, the Asian crisis of 1997-1998 and the global crisis of 2008-2009.
Second, it is indisputable that today Nazarbayev is one of the most active and respected politicians in the region and leaders of many countries in the world openly acknowledge the fact. He regularly proposes important policy initiatives in the country and the world.
Events in Ukraine forced the multi-ethnic people of Kazakhstan to take a different look at the situation in their own country. Against the background of economic and political problems in the world, especially events in Ukraine, the majority of the Kazakh people want to see a strong leader leading them into the future.