ASTANA – Two hundred and eighty-one candidates from party lists and 435 candidates from single-mandate districts will run in the March 19 elections to the Mazhilis, the lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament, as the country’s Central Election Commission (CEC) closed the registration of candidates on Feb. 18.
Kazakhstan’s Mazhilis consists of 98 deputies, with 29 to be elected from single-mandate territorial constituencies and 69 from party lists.
Wrapping up the results of the registration process at a Feb. 19 meeting, CEC Chairman Nurlan Abdirov emphasized the growing public interest in the electoral processes and political activity.
Abdirov attributed high competitiveness in the current election campaign, with, on average, 15 candidates per mandate in single-mandate constituencies, to changes in election legislation that allows citizens to self-nominate themselves.
Two hundred and eighty-one candidates will compete for 69 seats in the Mazhilis. The registration was passed by all party candidates except the two from the Respublica party, who voluntarily withdrew their candidacies.
The People’s Party of Kazakhstan registered 52 candidates, Aq Zhol Democratic Party of Kazakhstan – 54 candidates, National Social Democratic Party – 19 candidates, Baytaq Green Party of Kazakhstan – 18 candidates, Auyl People’s Democratic Patriotic Party – 25 candidates, Amanat – 90 candidates, and Respublica Party – 23 candidates.
“Every political party complied with the required representation of women, youth, and persons with disabilities. Overall, the representation of these three categories on all party lists stands at 38.1 percent. The average age of candidates is 45.7 years. Nineteen candidates are young people under 29 years old,’ said CEC Deputy Chairman Konstantin Petrov at a Feb. 18 meeting.
Women, however, account for just 28.5 percent of party list candidates.
Speaking about the single-mandate candidates, a novelty in the upcoming elections, Petrov said out of 435 candidates, 359 (82.53 percent) are self-nominated, a sign of unprecedented political activity among citizens. Seventy-six candidates, or 17.47 percent, represent political parties.
Women make up just 19.54 percent (85 candidates) out of the registered candidates. The average age of the candidates is 49.34 years old.
Petrov underlined that the fiercest competition is in the capital of Astana, with 41 and 42 candidates per seat in the city’s two electoral districts, as well as in Almaty, with 37, 33, and 34 candidates in its three districts. The lowest competition was in the Turkistan Region, with five candidates per seat.
Six hundred and nine candidates had been initially nominated in 29 single-mandate territorial constituencies – 79 candidates from seven political parties and five candidates from four public associations, while 525 candidates were self-nominated.
According to the district election commissions, 45 candidates withdrew their applications before registration; 125 candidates were denied registration for legal reasons, and the registration of four candidates was canceled for failing to meet procedural requirements.
“On average, there are 15 people per mandate [in a single-mandate district]. 1,447 candidates were registered for deputies of maslikhats [local representative bodies] in 118 party lists of political parties, and 10,288 candidates were registered for single-seat constituencies,” said Nurlan Abdirov.
The competition in the maslikhat election is lower, with over three candidates per mandate. According to the CEC, there are 223 maslikhats with 3,415 mandates, including 3,081 set to be elected under the majoritarian system.
“According to the territorial election commissions, 10,288 candidates were nominated for 3,081 deputy seats, more than three candidates per seat. 1,451 candidates were registered in single-mandate constituencies at the regional level, 2,114 — at the city level, and 6,723 – at the district level. In general statistical indices, 61.8 percent were self-nominated, and 38.2 percent were nominated by political parties and other public associations,” said Petrov.
Becoming a candidate is just the beginning. Now that the campaigning has begun, parties and self-nominated candidates seek to use every channel possible to deliver their programs to the public and persuade voters to give them their votes. The campaigning period will last through midnight of March 18.
March 18 will be a day of silence, when campaigning is prohibited by law, and on March 19, the country’s citizens will head to the polling stations to vote.