Majority of Kazakh Voters in Favour of Greater Political Pluralism, Survey Says

ASTANA – The majority of early parliamentary election potential voters favour political pluralism, advocating for three or more parties to be represented in the Mazhilis (lower chamber of Parliament), according to a Jan. 25-28 “Public Opinion” Research Institute telephone survey in Kazakhstan, reported the institute’s press service. 

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“The voters advocate for political pluralism. Nearly 30 percent support the representation of five or more political parties in Mazhilis. Some 7 percent of respondents support having representatives of four parties, while around 15 percent stand for three or two,” reads the survey.

The independent sociological survey was conducted with the official permission of the Central Election Commission. The sample included 1,200 respondents over 18 years of age from 17 regions and the cities national importance of Astana, Almaty, and Shymkent. 

The survey notes that nearly half of the potential voters (48.6 percent) support the AMANAT party candidates, while the five percent threshold is likely to be crossed only by two more parties – the Auyl (6.2 percent) and Akzhol parties (5.4 percent). Other parties, such as the People’s Party of Kazakhstan (4.8%), Respublica (3.6%), Nationwide Social Democratic Party (3.2%), and Baytak (2.8%, have yet to gain enough support to cross the required threshold. 

Every fifth respondent in the poll has yet to decide on their party preferences, and the share of respondents ready to vote against all stands at 3 percent.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced early election for the Mazhilis after he dissolved the chamber and terminated the powers of the maslikhats (local administrative bodies) on January 19 to improve the political system’s efficiency. The elections for the 98 seats in the Mazhilis and 3,415 seats in 233 malikhats (local assemblies) of all levels are set for Sunday March 19.

The key changes in the upcoming elections include a reduced threshold of 5 percent for parties to get seats in the Mazhilis, and a 30 percent quota for women, the youth, and persons with special needs on party lists. Also a nine-member quota from the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan has been eliminated making the future Mazhilis a purely directly elected chamber while an “against all” option has been included on the electoral ballot.

The reintroduction of a mixed election system was also one of the most significant changes. From now on, 30 percent of deputies (29 out of 98 MPs) will be elected in single-mandate constituencies. Already, several such constituencies, especially in Astana and Almaty, see double digit numbers of people putting forward their nominations.

The nomination for all types of seats continues until February 8. 

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