A key feature of the current election campaign is the expansion of the quota in party lists and the obligation to comply with it when distributing the mandates.
Starting this year, in addition to women and youth, people with disabilities – a group that can also struggle with accessing political processes – will also be included in party lists for elections to the Mazhilis, the lower house of Parliament. The quota expansion is aimed at ensuring equality in political participation and inclusivity of decisions.
At the same time, quotas should not be construed as a mechanism for representatives of disadvantaged or excluded groups to protect only the interests of these very groups. The purpose of political quotas is much wider – to ensure pluralism of opinions, overcome one-sided (gender or socially determined) views and ensure equal opportunities in decision-making for the greater good.
The obligation to comply with the quota when distributing mandates in the Mazhilis is the main achievement of this amendment since without this addition the quotas would lose their purpose. It should be noted that this amendment takes into consideration mistakes of the previous amendment, when the 30 percent quota for women and youth was valid only during the registration of the lists.
Ultimately, the quota for participation in elections (party list) becomes a political participation quota for the communities poorly represented in the legislative branch of power. The inclusion of people with disabilities in the quota and the obligation to comply with the quota when allocating seats in the Mazhilis are designed to empower citizens to participate in the legislative process and protect the interests of the entire Kazakh society. The next step in improving the quota mechanism should be the obligation to comply with the quota in maslikhats, the local representative bodies.
The author is Gulmira Tukanova, a senior research analyst at the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies (KazISS) under the President of Kazakhstan.