Snap Presidential Elections in Kazakhstan

By Daniyar Yessimseitov

(Author note: The following is an expression of my opinions and views only)

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Nursultan Nazarbayev has been in power since Kazakhstan announced its independence in 1991 until present. Since then he has been reelected several times. In May 2007, the Parliament of Kazakhstan approved a constitutional amendment which would allow Nazarbayev to seek re-election as many times as he wishes. This amendment applies specifically and only to Nazarbayev, since it states that the first president will have no limits on how many times he can run for office, but subsequent presidents will be held to a five-year term. And this year he called for snap presidential elections that will hold place in few weeks’ time (26 April). Although here are a lot of people who think of him as a corrupted president, many people still favor him over any other candidates. No matter how bad the rumors are people still acknowledge the fact that he raised the Kazakhstan and put tremendous efforts into its development. Kazakhstan is still a very young country and it has a long way to complete eradication of corruption. In every structures in Kazakhstan there is always a “corrupt” model to it. The way this model works is that every member of the system who wants to profit from governmental budget has to share its profit with its seniority. And it goes all the way up. If you do everything discreetly and share part of the profit, higher ranked seniors will close their eyes on it, but once someone goes against the system he is judged by the full extent of the law. And so as people climb this power ladder they try to hire people that they know and trust. So for example when a high ranked position like mayor is being changed, this is usually followed by a change in the most positions in City Hall since the new mayor wants to bring in his team. And so, following this logic people think that it is to everyone’s benefit that Nursultan Nazarbayev remains in power since this way it is controlled by one group that has an established “food chain” command. And recent call for early presidential elections and the fact that people age have created some fear among the people and uncertainty on near future. Due to other candidates not having much of the public credibility it is unlikely that we will see a new president elected, but this is definitely a moment where Kazakhstan development path may take a sudden change.

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