Mazhilis Election Registration Closes, Six Parties and 234 Candidates Approved by CEC

ASTANA – The political party registration process for the March 20 parliamentary elections ended Feb. 20 with a six-party list that includes 234 candidates approved by the Central Election Commission (CEC). On the same day, the nomination of candidates for maslikhat (regional legislatures) elections was also completed. Campaigning, which began Feb. 21, will now last until March 18.

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The country’s ruling party, Nur Otan, adopted a new election programme, “Kazakhstan 2021: Unity. Stability. Creation,” during the Jan. 19 congress chaired by Kazakh President and party leader Nursultan Nazarbayev.

According to the document, the party intends to carry on with the goal of joining the 30 leading world economies. The programme is based on the five institutional reforms programme announced last year, which supports the Nurly Zhol programme and the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy.

“The coming five years will determine the fate of Kazakhstan in the 21st century. Our country and all of us will have to pass a test of strength. There is much work on the country’s transformation ahead of us. Our mission is to protect the country, strengthen our sovereignty and continue the nation’s way to the future. We cannot hide from the global challenge. We must accept it. We have one leader: Nursultan Nazarbayev. We have a shared great future and our victory will be shared as well,” the text of the document said.

The five institutional reforms include modernising Kazakhstan’s state apparatus, enhancing the rule of law, supporting the middle class and diversifying the economy, promoting national unity and increasing transparency and accountability in government. Mechanisms to achieve these ends include steps to make the civil service corps independent from political processes and patrons, including new methods of remuneration for civil servants; new systems for selecting, promoting and confirming police officers and judges; industrialisation and export support programmes; trilingual education (in Kazakh, Russian and English) and national values programmes; and steps to increase accountability by the heads of state bodies, to ensure transparent decision making, to involve citizens in budgeting processes and to promote societal self-regulation by transferring powers to civil society institutions and reducing the areas of responsibility of state bodies.

The party programme promised to create 395.500 jobs by 2019. For these purposes, $22.5 billion will be allocated from the budget.

Nur Otan also said they would take control of the problems of access to preschool education and emergency schools in all regions of the country and will focus on the development of modern information technology infrastructure.

The planned Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC), an initiative of President Nazarbayev, is also central to Nur Otan’s vision. The party says the centre will attract foreign investment, open up the Kazakh banking sector and make it easier for insurance companies and Islamic finance institutions to do business, as well as promoting best financial practices in Kazakhstan.

The system of targeted social assistance will be updated and streamlined under the Nur Otan programme, with social assistance provided only to those who need it, according to family income.

The party also has an action plan to prevent unemployment, which it considers crucial in confronting the global crisis, and a plan to develop rental housing.

Kazakhstan will continue its multivector foreign policy and will promote Nazarbayev’s international initiatives, the Nur Otan platform said.

“Unity and harmony supported by strong leadership is the main formula of Kazakh success in the 21st century,” Nur Otan said.

The Ak Zhol Democratic Party of Kazakhstan, headed by Azat Peruashev, intends to modernise existing tax policy to support national industry. The party identified 10 directions of its electoral programme. These include promoting business and entrepreneurship and supporting market reforms, including through far-reaching privatisation plans. Ak Zhol suggests education reforms, including giving graduates the right to pass university entrance exams instead of the Unified National Test (UNT). To develop Kazakhstan’s workforce, the party advocates quotas for attracting foreign labour and introducing state educational grants for specialists. The party prioritises housing construction as a driver of the economy, as well as agriculture. They also promote transparency and accountability of the government to the public.

“The political culture of Kazakh society is ready for the formation of a civilised discussion,” their programme says. The programme also includes measures to develop culture in the country, to fight corruption and to reform the legal and judicial systems. Ak Zhol is also going to seek the adoption of measures to protect all citizens against extremism and terrorism and raise the status of employees of law-enforcement bodies, they said.

The programme of Auyl Social Democratic Party, chaired by Ali Bektayev, concentrates on the comprehensive development of rural areas. The core principles of the Auyl election platform are culture, agriculture and spiritual development and social support for families.

The Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan (CPPK) has presented a Marxist-Leninist election campaign that calls for support for communism and collectivist values in modern society, paying particular attention, as usual, to the negative impact of Western culture and values.

“The flaws of the West are mostly visible in the cultural sphere, since consumption as a social phenomenon is largely based on a system of values ​​and ideas that reduce the sense of life to the satisfaction of material interests. Western culture has become a business and its supreme principle is purely material values,” the platform said.

According to the programme, the cinema can serve as the most striking example of the degradation of modern Western culture, as it is based, the communists say, on violence and depravity.

The CPPK is also against fast food, calling it “the ugliest form of the manifestation of vulgar individualism in daily culture.”

“Western societies must objectively admit that the fast food problem has reached the same level as excessive alcohol consumption and smoking. The only difference is that, unlike tobacco and alcohol, a fast food packet does not warn of health dangers,” the CPPK programme stressed.

The Nationwide Social Democratic Party (NSDP) set the following tasks: “Stop the declining living standards and rising prices, fight poverty, introduce all modern world standards in Kazakhstan and leave behind an atmosphere of anxiety and social tensions.”

The party wishes to reorient productive capacity for the purposes of internal development, pave the way to an innovation economy and stop the national currency collapse, which is “a natural consequence of the errors of oligarchic power”, their programme says. It also calls for the transformation of “the existing authoritarian regime into a democratic political system” by way of a national dialogue. The NSDP suggested its own measures to solve these problems, which are based on the principles of expediency, justice and public good.

The Birlik (Unity) party appeals to the nation to unite against the global crisis and support the President’s goal of joining the 30 most developed countries of the world. The party wants to prioritise environmental protection, focusing on the goal of “passing on to future generations a clean Kazakhstan with [well-preserved] flora and fauna.”

Economically, the party emphasises reforms aimed at shaping a more competitive economy and agricultural sector and the need to enhance the state-defined consumer basket by increasing it.

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