ASTANA – Whether commuting to the office or university or walking around the city, one might get lost between colorful posters and billboards in Kazakh cities broadcasting political messages, two weeks into electoral campaigning. While it is the responsibility of each citizen to make an informed decision about their votes, The Astana Times presents a close-up view of how Kazakhstan’s seven political parties [in alphabetical order] are competing to gain the votes.
The Amanat party, chaired by Yerlan Koshanov, continues traveling in the regions to introduce their electoral program titled Together with People.
On March 1, the party’s electoral office visited the North Kazakhstan Region, a major agricultural center and home to nearly 540,000 people.
Visiting the region, where agriculture, forestry, and fisheries account for more than half of total investments in the region’s economy, Koshanov highlighted the importance of the sector for the country’s economic growth and promised support to agricultural producers.
“Developing the agro-industrial complex and improving the quality of life in the countryside are inextricably linked. Almost in every region, we meet with agrarians. It is you who create jobs in the countryside and ensure the country’s food security. The party will create the conditions for working in the fields to be honorable and profitable,” said Koshanov.
Among the party’s promises in its program are improving subsidies system for the agrarian sector, developing fodder production, and addressing the long-standing problems of cattle breeding, introducing transparent and fair mechanisms of subsidized fuel and lubricants distribution to farmers during spring fieldwork.
Before the North Kazakhstan Region, the Amanat party representatives visited Arkalyk town in Kostanai Region, Ulytau, East Kazakhstan and Abai regions.
Similar to its rivals, the Aq Jol party, which focuses on democracy and parliamentarism, the fight against corruption and “de-offshorization”, social justice, market economy and support of entrepreneurship, visits different parts of the country to speak to people and present its program.
One of the party’s latest electoral trips was to Shymkent. The party’s chair Azat Peruashev met with people, presenting the election program titled Changes Are Inevitable.
A day earlier, Peruashev and the candidates met with workers of KZ Recycling company in the Karasai district of the Almaty Region, the largest company in Central Asia that recycles waste paper and produces cardboard, packaging, and paper.
Besides environmental protection, other concerns voiced by the people during similar meetings in other regions were poor development of single-industry towns, increased presence of foreign subsoil use companies, rising food prices, and youth unemployment, particularly, in rural areas.
“Under last year’s constitutional reform initiated by the head of state, a very important novelty was the norm that land and subsoil belong to the people. It is necessary to revise relations with large foreign subsoil users in accordance with this norm. Their profits shouldn’t be transferred abroad, and investors should involve local businesses from among Kazakh companies,” said Peruashev during his Feb. 19 meeting with workers in Karagandy, a major industrial center of the country.
Auyl People’s Democratic Patriotic Party
On March 2, the Auyl party candidates met with the SemAZ plant workers in Semei, a domestic manufacturer of agricultural and commercial trucks. The party, which prioritizes the development of the agricultural sector and support to rural areas, spoke about its program and objective to transform the agrarian-industrial sector.
The Auyl party also visited a stud farm in the Kostanai Region, noting the livestock industry is in need of highly qualified specialists.
“The Auyl Party knows the rural problems very well and has a clear vision to solve them. In our political platform, an important role is given to the development of rural areas in general and each rural settlement, particularly the issues of economy, social, engineering and production infrastructure,” said one of the party candidates Kairat Aituganov at a March 1 roundtable in Kostanai.
Providing clean drinking water is critical to rural development, said the party candidates during their meeting with Esil Su company workers in Kostanai. The facility is in charge of economic activities in water supply in North Kazakhstan and Kostanai regions.
“As for our country, by 2025, 100 percent of cities and 80 percent of towns will have drinking water. This is all thanks to your hard work. (…) Only together will we be able to turn our country into an industrial and agricultural power, hence Kazakhstan will be self-sufficient, prosperous, and safe!” said Aituganov.
On March 1, Baytaq party raised the air quality problem in Astana. The party, which positions itself as the first green party in Kazakhstan with the slogan Clean Air, Clean Water, Clean Earth – Pure Human Relationships, went out to check how the heating season goes in the capital city.
“For decades, our capital Astana has been unable to gasify. This issue is a priority. For our party, if it enters the parliament, the first issue will be the gasification of the city of Astana. Today, using coal, many people suffer from allergies and cancer. Therefore, we must clean up the city and gasify it!” said the party’s founder and chairman Azamatkhan Amirtai.
The party’s branch in Ulytau Region met with medical workers on March 2, speaking about environmental protection, improving air quality, protecting public health, and promoting a healthy lifestyle.
“The environmental situation in the region primarily affects human health, in this regard, it is important to consider your opinion in addressing emerging topical issues,” said the chairwoman of the party’s branch Bazarkul Umbetova.
National Social Democratic Party
On March 1, the National Social Democratic Party organized a roundtable on the education system, proposing introducing free higher education for all Kazakh citizens, one of the key tenets in their election program. According to the party, this measure will prevent the outflow of citizens abroad.
According to statistics provided by the party, 60,000 students who graduate from Kazakhstan’s schools go abroad every year, citing corruption in secondary and higher education institutions and high tuition fees as major reasons.
“Many of our skilled professionals have been leaving the country in recent years. Only a small fraction of them come back. If this continues, there won’t be a single student left studying at [our] universities. Insufficient attention is paid to the state language, too. The needs and interests of our citizens are the same as education courses, but nothing has changed in 30 years,” said a party candidate, Talgat Omarov.
The party’s meetings with the public continue in the regions. On March 2, party candidates met with the staff of the Kentau transformer plant in the Turkistan Region.
People’s Party of Kazakhstan
People’s Party organized a Clean City campaign in Shymkent on March 3, planting trees and plants in the nation’s third-largest city. A day earlier, Taraz hosted a motor rally organized by the party.
“The most important goal of the People’s Party is to improve the social situation of ordinary Kazakhs, build a strong economy, and change the political elite. The victory of the People’s Party in the elections will be a real victory for the people. We will bring the voices of ordinary Kazakhs, our voters, to power,” said a party candidate, Zhanat Bastaubaeva, at the rally.
On the same day, the party’s branch in Astana met with QazExpoCongress workers to present its election program, focusing on the accessibility of housing as one of the party’s goals to provide equal opportunities to citizens.
“The People’s Party proposes to subsidize mortgages for villagers,” said Nurdaulet Orazkhanov, head of the party’s branch in the capital, noting the right to housing is an inalienable right of every citizen.
Respublica, the country’s youngest party formed by business people and media influencers, relies heavily on social media targeting its major audience of young people. The party organized a concert on March 2 in Uralsk with Kazakh pop stars gathering 2,500 people in what they described as “one of the most creative community meetings.”
On the same day, the party candidates organized and participated in the kokpar game in Kostanai, a traditional game on horseback. Aidarbek Khojanazarov, the party’s chair, is also the president of the Kostanai region’s Kokpar Federation.
In Kostanai, a major agricultural center of Kazakhstan, the party members were also acquainted with dairy production at the Noviy Den (New Day) facility, which has produced high-quality products from natural milk since 1997.
At a March 2 meeting with the region’s public, the party’s co-chairwoman Dinara Shukizhanova noted that the people’s interests should be represented and protected by people of action, ready to address the problems of people and business.
“There is an opinion in Kazakhstan that politicians are of age, inert, and lack initiative. And there is some truth in it. As the head of a large enterprise, I have repeatedly met deputies who made promises. But nothing changed, the next ones came after them and also failed to act,” said Shukizhanova, noting the Kazakh Parliament needs new voices.
The campaigning will last through midnight of March 18.