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The outcomes of parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan: the triumph of the «peoples democracy»

photo: asia.nikkei.com
22 March 2023

On 19 March in Kazakhstan the extraordinary elections to the Majilis (the lower house of parliament) and maslikhats took place. All the registered political parties participated in the race along with numerous candidates from the single-mandate constituencies. In addition to the three old-timers of the Kazakhstan parliament the ruling party Amanat (the former Nur Otan) and the parliamentary opposition parties the Aq Jol party and the Peoples Party of Kazakhstan (PPK), the former underdogs demonstrated the unprecedented activities the Auyl party and the Nationwide Social Democratic Party (NSDP) along with the political newcomers the Baytaq party and the Respublia party. Eventually, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC) of the Republic of Kazakhstan, six parties out of seven will have representation in the new Majilis, and the ruling party Amanat will have the significant majority. [1] At the same time, the Kazakh voters demonstrated the lowest turnout ever during the entire history of the parliamentary elections. The international and local observers noted that overall there were no incidents or violations to report.

New elections according to the new rules

The parliamentary elections in March completed the big electoral cycle in Kazakhstan, which was launched in the spring of 2022. Let us remind here that soon after the tragic January events, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev initiated the nation-wide referendum on the amendments to the Constitution. Based on its outcomes, Kazakhstan was transformed from the suer-presidential republic to the presidential republic with a strong parliament. Then, in November of the last year, the extraordinary presidential elections took place, where Tokayev won after receiving 81% of votes and got the right to stay for the seven-year term. In two months, in January 2023, the Senate (the upper house of parliament) was renewed, and the political old-timers from Nazarbayevs era were replaced with Tokayevs political appointees. Now, on the eve of Navruz, the Oriental New Year and the festival of renewal, time has come for bringing new elected members to the national Majilis and regional maslikhats. Thus, the pressing political changes were implemented in Kazakhstan step by step, without losing the social and political stability and control of the government.

The analysts note that all the stages of this multi-tier election relay are in line with the overall narrative of political reforms launched over one year ago by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. He announced the coming changes in March 2022 in his address to the nation. [2] «The need for extraordinary elections to the Majilis and maslikhats is underpinned by the logic of the Constitutional reform supported by our citizens during the nation-wide referendum. This reform resulted in our country moving to the new tracks, the new more competitive rules of forming the representative power branch», Tokayev stated before the start of the new election campaign. According to him, these elections «will bring the new content to the formula «strong President influential parliament accountable government». This means that the effective authorities made the appropriate conclusions from the tragic January events and openly promoted the resolute renewal of the political framework.

At the same time, Ak-Orda proposed the new rules for campaigning, which were positively received by the Kazakhstan society. For example, the procedure of elections to the Majilis was changed significantly: previously all the candidates were running exclusively based on the party lists, but now only 70% of the lower house will be formed based on this principle, and another 30% based on the single-mandate constituencies. The registration procedure for the parties was simplified significantly, and the required membership minimum is now 5 thousand members instead of 20 thousand. The most important novelties are: the new none-of-the-above line in the voting ballot, and the decreased threshold for passing to the Majilis from 7 to 5% of votes. We should especially focus on the fact that the segmented Kazakhstan opposition turned out to be completely demoralized and uncapable for uniting or proposing a clear political alternative. Eventually, practically all the political forces and politicians of Kazakhstan entered the election cycle in accordance with the rules proposed by the head of the state. In essence, during this one-year-long election relay the government successfully implemented the pressing political reform top-down.

The Peoples Democracy model

In accordance with the new rules, 98 members were elected to the Majilis 69 based on the party lists and 29 from single-mandate constituencies. The political competition during the March elections turned out to be extremely high: 29 electoral districts nominated 435 candidates, and 359 of them were self-nominated independent candidates. On top of that, there are 223 district maslikhats in Kazakhstan, and 10,288 candidates were competing for their 3,415 seats. For example, at some polling stations in Almaty the number of candidates in the ballot was as many as 40! All this is an evidence of the growing political consciousness and of the great demand for new faces in politics. Shortly before the elections, the state counselor of Kazakhstan Erlan Karin remarked: «The most important factor was that the reforms of the President paved the way for the renewal of the social values system, awoke the citizen activism and contributed to engagement of citizens into the process of cardinal transformation of the country». [3] Experts and leaders of the Republic of Kazakhstan call the reforms launched by Tokayev one year ago the unprecedented from the standpoint of their scale.

The extraordinary parliamentary elections became a serious challenge for the ruling party Amanat supporting the reforms of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Let us remind here that this party used to be called Nur Otan and was founded by Nursultan Nazarbayev, the first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and then was «inherited» by his successor Tokayev. After the massive protest in January 2022, Nazarbayev lost his political muscle, and the ruling party received a different name of Amanat to avoid the negative train of the past. After that President Tokayev left this party to distance himself from all the political forces. However, Amanat remained the pro-presidential and the biggest party in the country. It has a big network of regional branches, has a substantial experience in running election campaigns and a significant succession pool. All that allowed the Amanat party to nominate a big number of new and popular candidates both as per party lists and from all the single-mandate constituencies.

Eventually, the ruling party Amanat could achieve a hard-won victory at these very competitive campaign. According to the interim results of the CEC of Kazakhstan: 3,431,510 votes for Amanat (53.9%); 10.9% votes for Auyl; 8.41% votes for Aq Jol; 6.8% votes for PPK; 8.59% votes for Respublica; 5.2% votes for NSDP. The new green Baytaq party was the only one to get the votes below the threshold (2.3%). The «none-of-the-above» line was marked in the ballots only by 3.9% of voters, which indicates a low level of protest. According to the interim results of the CEC, Manat received 39 seats in the Majilis as per the party lists, and its competitors received from 4 to 6 mandates. In addition, the candidates from the ruling party won in 23 single-mandate constituencies out of 29, and in the remaining 6 single-mandate constituencies the self-nominees won. [4] Thus, in the new Majilis the Amanat party remains in power, occupying 62 seats out of 98. Marat Shibutov, a prominent analyst from Kazakhstan believes that Amanat may get some additional seat in the new Majilis, because some of the self-nominees share Amanats program.

Regional experts note the key outcomes of the election: the population at large supported the government and simultaneously voted for the renewal of the political framework. The amendments to the laws introduced based on the outcomes of the Constitutional referendum have put a barrier to using the traditional administrative resource. The interference of the executive power bodies into the campaign was strictly limited, and the President and the heads of the regions are not allowed to be members of any political parties. Daniyar Ashimbayev, the political analyst from Kazakhstan, emphasizes that all the election commissions received the instruction not to allow any interference into the vote count procedure. In essence, Kazakhstan switched from our traditional rigid model of the «Soviet democracy» understood as total dominance of the ruling party, to a more flexible model of the «peoples democracy» applied in the socialist countries of Eastern Europe. The ruling party turned out to be capable of maintaining the control over the parliament without any unlawful pressure or false records, and the presence of five junior partners in the Majilis is an evidence of political pluralism, providing for the possibility of tactical maneuver.

National specifics of campaigning

The recent election campaign showed that the Kazakhstan voters were obviously tired of the mainstream rhetoric and stereotypes. For example, the speeches of the former «Presidential nightingale» Ermuhamet Ertibasayev (the Chairman of PPK) turned out to be vey weak. Just ardent demagogy about socialism and replacing a set of citations from Nazarbayevs speeches with a set of the citations from Tokayevs speeches was no longer enough. On the contrary, the reserved speaker of the Majilis and the Chairman of the Amanat party Erlan Koshanov turned out a remarkable polemist and experience political soldier during the debates. Regional experts started calling Koshanov a potential successor of Tokayev along with the State Secretary Erlan Karin, the Senate Speaker Maulen Ashimbayev and the Head of the Presidents Administration Murat Nurtleu. [5] A rather high result of the Auyl party having won the second position was quite unexpected. This is connected with the fact that a big number of influential representatives of local businesses and regional elites joined the party after not finding a place for themselves in Amanat and other parties.

Other parties behaved rather like negligent students, who do not study during the semestre and are trying to improve the situation urgently before the exams. Thus, the Aq Jol party representing the interests of major and medium-size businesses of Kazakhstan wanted to score additional points using the topic of accession to the European Union and nationalistic slogans. The Nationwide Social Democratic Party (NDSP) instead of the social protection topic being of interest for many voters was more focused on positioning itself as the only political opposition. The environmental Baytaq party could not clearly explain its program to the voters, as it contained too many slogans and not enough specific tasks. Different from the, Respublica, the party of young top managers urgently created using the model of the Russian «New People» party, could successfully capture the novelty effect and turned out number three. However, in general, the growing estrangement of the population from the traditional political institutes was observed resulting in the decrease of the voters of the parliamentary old-timers by approximately one quarter. [6]

The thesis of voters getting tired is confirmed by the lowest turnout across the entire history of parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan 54.19%. The biggest number of voters was observed in the traditionalist Kyzylorda Region in the South of the country (66.46%), and the lowest turnout in the advanced multi-cultural metropolitan city of Almaty (25.82%). To compare: at the recent presidential election in 2022 the turnout made 69.44%. Regional experts explain such record-low turnout by the accumulated distrust of the citizens to political parties of Kazakhstan and to the institute of parliament per se, which, according to the apt words of Daniyar Ashimbayev, did a flip-flop several times during the recent years. As was mentioned earlier, after the tragic January events the sociologists recorded a dramatic rise of the level of trust to Tokayev personally and to the institute of presidency in general. All other political institutes of Kazakhstan judicial and parliamentary systems, executive power bodies and law enforcement agencies are far behind. [7]

The growing segmentation of voters and atomization of politics is another important conclusion to be made based on the outcomes of the recent election campaign. International observers noted that the turnout at the polling stations represented mainly the older generations (who are the TV viewers). As for younger people, who are so active in social media, they could be counted just using the fingers, especially at the polling stations in Almaty. [8] All the efforts of government to promote the so-called «youth policy» and hopes for the information power of social media turned out to be nothing but empty illusions. The political activity in social media looks more and more like polar lights mesmerizing glow changing its shape and color, but not leading to any useful action. A similar multi-colored picture could be seen among the candidates from the single-mandate constituencies. Hundreds of different self-nominees having come to believe in their uniqueness and easy-win based solely on the number of «likes» they were receiving in Twitter* the comments of their friends in the echo-cambers of social media, all of a sudden confronted the cruel reality. It was interesting that the self-nominees did not attempt to organize any alliances or to withdraw themselves in favor of each other, but rather demonstrated a grotesque example of the «out-and-out war» described by Hobbes.

Eventually this leads us to the question about new forms of political participation in the modern rapidly changing society. The mass political parties, which we are used to, are the product of the previous Modern era. They emerged in the society of mutual trust, the society well-structured by mass professions and communications. Today, the anomy society resembles more a Solaris ocean a similarity of the loosely bound and erratic sea foam consisting of individual «info-bubbles». The only way out of this deadlock seems to be in electronic remote voting allowing the «armchair voters» to express their political will as easily as ordering a cab or a pizza. However, the young generation is rather distrustful to this voting due to the possibility of manipulating the results and fixing the digital footprint. The fact that the younger generation does not have the possibilities for legal political representation is dangerous: it may provoke the unconventional forms of protest, such as violent nationalistic populism or radical Islamism. The Kazakhstan society is demographically growing and juvenescent, this Oedipus conflict of generations may become a serious problem of the near future.

Interim results

Overall, the recent parliamentary elections have successfully concluded the big electoral cycle. One year ago, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced an ambitious program of political modernization. The pressing transformations of Kazakhstan society were skillfully managed «from the top». The multi-stage electoral cycle was gradually changing the consolidated political landscape: the heavyweights of Nazarbayevs era were replaced by new politicians and Tokayevs appointees. The political rights and freedoms were step-by-step expanded with every new electoral campaign. Kazakhstan demonstrated the advanced dynamics of the political process and simultaneously was able to avoid the main mistakes of the Soviet «perestroika», which was performed chaotically and without a well-thought-out plan. The recent elections showed that the republican parliament significantly expanded the representation of different opinions, and the number of the political parties in the parliament doubled. Figuratively speaking, based on the outcomes of the elections, Kazakhstan moved to a new step of political pluralism.

New more competitive formation of the representative branch of power caused the unprecedented surge of civic engagement of the Kazakhs. Participation of over 10 thousand candidates in the parliamentary elections evidences the massive growth of self-consciousness and the demand for new faces in politics. In these complicated conditions the ruling party Amanat succeeded in winning these highly competitive elections. It received an impressive majority of votes for the party lists and in single-mandate constituencies as well. Eventually, the pro-President party Amanat confirmed its status as a ruling party. It is important that such a convincing victory was achieved without using the administrative resource. Five more parties of different political vectors will be working in the new Majilis together with Amanat. This will allow for the renewed parliament to take into account all the broad spectrum of the opinions and to timely adjust the policies of the country. The conclusion may be made about the political system of Kazakhstan migrating from the rigid post-Soviet model on single party dominance towards a more flexible and multi-party «peoples democracy».

Experts are emphasizing the main outcomes of the elections: in general, the voters supported the government and simultaneously expressed the will for the political renewal. At the same time, the campaign identified a number of serious problems and the objectives for the future. It became obvious, that the voters got tired of the long-lasting electoral race, which was demonstrated in the very low turnout during the parliamentary elections. The institute of presidency and Kassym-Jomart Tokayev himself today have the highest confidence rating with the population of the Republic of Kazakhstan; but the level of confidence to political parties and to the national parliament as a political institute turned out to be much lower. Probably, that was due to the infantilism and poor organization of a number of Kazakhstan politicians, especially among the opposition, and the self-nominees. At the same time, the low level of political engagement of the young generation was observed despite the newly introduced youth quota. Such conflict of generations and the growth of anomy is potentially dangerous in the demographically growing and juvenescent Kazakhstan. The government was successful in resolving two priority problems the renewal of the pool of professionals and political modernization; now two other serious challenges are awaiting the resolution social divide and the growing archaization. The new composition of the parliament should be instrumental in such resolution and should help President Tokayev in implementing the announced political course for building new Kazakhstan.


* Twitter social media is blocked in the territory of the Russian Federation.

1. Kazakhstan CEC announced the interim results of the elections. Zakon.kz, 20.03.2023. https://www.zakon.kz/6387791-v-tsik-kazakhstana-obyavili-predvaritelnye-rezultaty-vyborov.html

2. The Presidents address to the nation outlined the vector of political modernization in Kazakhstan. CISS the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, 17.03.2022. https://caspian.institute/product/solozobov-yurij/prezidentskoe-poslanie-oboznachilo-kontury-politicheskoj-modernizacii-v-kazahstane-37910.shtml

3. Erlan Karin: Presidential reforms laid the foundation of upgrading the system. Informburo.kz, 16.03.2023. https://informburo.kz/novosti/erlan-karin-prezidentskie-reformy-polozili-nacalo-obnovleniyu-sistemy

4. Elections in the single-mandate constituencies: who got the seats in the Majilis. Informburo.kz, 20.03.2023. https://informburo.kz/novosti/vybory-po-odnomandatnym-okrugam-kto-polucil-mesta-v-mazilise

5. A remarkable degree of the elections: how the top public officials voted. Ulysmedia.kz, 19.03.2023. https://www.ulysmedia.kz/analitika/13892-vybory-v-prevoskhodnoi-stepeni-kak-progolosovali-pervye-litsa-gosudarstva/

6. Elections in Kazakhstan: the record-low turnout and unexpected composition of parliament. IAC MGU, 20.03.2023. https://ia-centr.ru/experts/marsel-khamitov/vybory-v-kazakhstane-novyy-antirekord-po-yavke-i-neozhidannyy-sostav-parlamenta/

7. The triumph of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and re-start of the political system of Kazakhstan. Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, 21.11.2022. https://caspian.institute/product/sektor-kazahstana-kisi/triumfalnaya-pobeda-kasym-zhomarta-tokaeva-i-restart-politicheskoj-sistemy-kazahstana-38384.shtml

8. How are residents of Almaty voting at the elections. Inbusiness.kz, 19.03.2023. https://inbusiness.kz/ru/news/kak-golosuyut-almatincy-na-vyborah

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Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies
Reports

The outcomes of parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan: the triumph of the «peoples democracy»

photo: asia.nikkei.com
22 2023

On 19 March in Kazakhstan the extraordinary elections to the Majilis (the lower house of parliament) and maslikhats took place. All the registered political parties participated in the race along with numerous candidates from the single-mandate constituencies. In addition to the three old-timers of the Kazakhstan parliament the ruling party Amanat (the former Nur Otan) and the parliamentary opposition parties the Aq Jol party and the Peoples Party of Kazakhstan (PPK), the former underdogs demonstrated the unprecedented activities the Auyl party and the Nationwide Social Democratic Party (NSDP) along with the political newcomers the Baytaq party and the Respublia party. Eventually, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC) of the Republic of Kazakhstan, six parties out of seven will have representation in the new Majilis, and the ruling party Amanat will have the significant majority. [1] At the same time, the Kazakh voters demonstrated the lowest turnout ever during the entire history of the parliamentary elections. The international and local observers noted that overall there were no incidents or violations to report.

New elections according to the new rules

The parliamentary elections in March completed the big electoral cycle in Kazakhstan, which was launched in the spring of 2022. Let us remind here that soon after the tragic January events, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev initiated the nation-wide referendum on the amendments to the Constitution. Based on its outcomes, Kazakhstan was transformed from the suer-presidential republic to the presidential republic with a strong parliament. Then, in November of the last year, the extraordinary presidential elections took place, where Tokayev won after receiving 81% of votes and got the right to stay for the seven-year term. In two months, in January 2023, the Senate (the upper house of parliament) was renewed, and the political old-timers from Nazarbayevs era were replaced with Tokayevs political appointees. Now, on the eve of Navruz, the Oriental New Year and the festival of renewal, time has come for bringing new elected members to the national Majilis and regional maslikhats. Thus, the pressing political changes were implemented in Kazakhstan step by step, without losing the social and political stability and control of the government.

The analysts note that all the stages of this multi-tier election relay are in line with the overall narrative of political reforms launched over one year ago by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. He announced the coming changes in March 2022 in his address to the nation. [2] «The need for extraordinary elections to the Majilis and maslikhats is underpinned by the logic of the Constitutional reform supported by our citizens during the nation-wide referendum. This reform resulted in our country moving to the new tracks, the new more competitive rules of forming the representative power branch», Tokayev stated before the start of the new election campaign. According to him, these elections «will bring the new content to the formula «strong President influential parliament accountable government». This means that the effective authorities made the appropriate conclusions from the tragic January events and openly promoted the resolute renewal of the political framework.

At the same time, Ak-Orda proposed the new rules for campaigning, which were positively received by the Kazakhstan society. For example, the procedure of elections to the Majilis was changed significantly: previously all the candidates were running exclusively based on the party lists, but now only 70% of the lower house will be formed based on this principle, and another 30% based on the single-mandate constituencies. The registration procedure for the parties was simplified significantly, and the required membership minimum is now 5 thousand members instead of 20 thousand. The most important novelties are: the new none-of-the-above line in the voting ballot, and the decreased threshold for passing to the Majilis from 7 to 5% of votes. We should especially focus on the fact that the segmented Kazakhstan opposition turned out to be completely demoralized and uncapable for uniting or proposing a clear political alternative. Eventually, practically all the political forces and politicians of Kazakhstan entered the election cycle in accordance with the rules proposed by the head of the state. In essence, during this one-year-long election relay the government successfully implemented the pressing political reform top-down.

The Peoples Democracy model

In accordance with the new rules, 98 members were elected to the Majilis 69 based on the party lists and 29 from single-mandate constituencies. The political competition during the March elections turned out to be extremely high: 29 electoral districts nominated 435 candidates, and 359 of them were self-nominated independent candidates. On top of that, there are 223 district maslikhats in Kazakhstan, and 10,288 candidates were competing for their 3,415 seats. For example, at some polling stations in Almaty the number of candidates in the ballot was as many as 40! All this is an evidence of the growing political consciousness and of the great demand for new faces in politics. Shortly before the elections, the state counselor of Kazakhstan Erlan Karin remarked: «The most important factor was that the reforms of the President paved the way for the renewal of the social values system, awoke the citizen activism and contributed to engagement of citizens into the process of cardinal transformation of the country». [3] Experts and leaders of the Republic of Kazakhstan call the reforms launched by Tokayev one year ago the unprecedented from the standpoint of their scale.

The extraordinary parliamentary elections became a serious challenge for the ruling party Amanat supporting the reforms of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Let us remind here that this party used to be called Nur Otan and was founded by Nursultan Nazarbayev, the first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and then was «inherited» by his successor Tokayev. After the massive protest in January 2022, Nazarbayev lost his political muscle, and the ruling party received a different name of Amanat to avoid the negative train of the past. After that President Tokayev left this party to distance himself from all the political forces. However, Amanat remained the pro-presidential and the biggest party in the country. It has a big network of regional branches, has a substantial experience in running election campaigns and a significant succession pool. All that allowed the Amanat party to nominate a big number of new and popular candidates both as per party lists and from all the single-mandate constituencies.

Eventually, the ruling party Amanat could achieve a hard-won victory at these very competitive campaign. According to the interim results of the CEC of Kazakhstan: 3,431,510 votes for Amanat (53.9%); 10.9% votes for Auyl; 8.41% votes for Aq Jol; 6.8% votes for PPK; 8.59% votes for Respublica; 5.2% votes for NSDP. The new green Baytaq party was the only one to get the votes below the threshold (2.3%). The «none-of-the-above» line was marked in the ballots only by 3.9% of voters, which indicates a low level of protest. According to the interim results of the CEC, Manat received 39 seats in the Majilis as per the party lists, and its competitors received from 4 to 6 mandates. In addition, the candidates from the ruling party won in 23 single-mandate constituencies out of 29, and in the remaining 6 single-mandate constituencies the self-nominees won. [4] Thus, in the new Majilis the Amanat party remains in power, occupying 62 seats out of 98. Marat Shibutov, a prominent analyst from Kazakhstan believes that Amanat may get some additional seat in the new Majilis, because some of the self-nominees share Amanats program.

Regional experts note the key outcomes of the election: the population at large supported the government and simultaneously voted for the renewal of the political framework. The amendments to the laws introduced based on the outcomes of the Constitutional referendum have put a barrier to using the traditional administrative resource. The interference of the executive power bodies into the campaign was strictly limited, and the President and the heads of the regions are not allowed to be members of any political parties. Daniyar Ashimbayev, the political analyst from Kazakhstan, emphasizes that all the election commissions received the instruction not to allow any interference into the vote count procedure. In essence, Kazakhstan switched from our traditional rigid model of the «Soviet democracy» understood as total dominance of the ruling party, to a more flexible model of the «peoples democracy» applied in the socialist countries of Eastern Europe. The ruling party turned out to be capable of maintaining the control over the parliament without any unlawful pressure or false records, and the presence of five junior partners in the Majilis is an evidence of political pluralism, providing for the possibility of tactical maneuver.

National specifics of campaigning

The recent election campaign showed that the Kazakhstan voters were obviously tired of the mainstream rhetoric and stereotypes. For example, the speeches of the former «Presidential nightingale» Ermuhamet Ertibasayev (the Chairman of PPK) turned out to be vey weak. Just ardent demagogy about socialism and replacing a set of citations from Nazarbayevs speeches with a set of the citations from Tokayevs speeches was no longer enough. On the contrary, the reserved speaker of the Majilis and the Chairman of the Amanat party Erlan Koshanov turned out a remarkable polemist and experience political soldier during the debates. Regional experts started calling Koshanov a potential successor of Tokayev along with the State Secretary Erlan Karin, the Senate Speaker Maulen Ashimbayev and the Head of the Presidents Administration Murat Nurtleu. [5] A rather high result of the Auyl party having won the second position was quite unexpected. This is connected with the fact that a big number of influential representatives of local businesses and regional elites joined the party after not finding a place for themselves in Amanat and other parties.

Other parties behaved rather like negligent students, who do not study during the semestre and are trying to improve the situation urgently before the exams. Thus, the Aq Jol party representing the interests of major and medium-size businesses of Kazakhstan wanted to score additional points using the topic of accession to the European Union and nationalistic slogans. The Nationwide Social Democratic Party (NDSP) instead of the social protection topic being of interest for many voters was more focused on positioning itself as the only political opposition. The environmental Baytaq party could not clearly explain its program to the voters, as it contained too many slogans and not enough specific tasks. Different from the, Respublica, the party of young top managers urgently created using the model of the Russian «New People» party, could successfully capture the novelty effect and turned out number three. However, in general, the growing estrangement of the population from the traditional political institutes was observed resulting in the decrease of the voters of the parliamentary old-timers by approximately one quarter. [6]

The thesis of voters getting tired is confirmed by the lowest turnout across the entire history of parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan 54.19%. The biggest number of voters was observed in the traditionalist Kyzylorda Region in the South of the country (66.46%), and the lowest turnout in the advanced multi-cultural metropolitan city of Almaty (25.82%). To compare: at the recent presidential election in 2022 the turnout made 69.44%. Regional experts explain such record-low turnout by the accumulated distrust of the citizens to political parties of Kazakhstan and to the institute of parliament per se, which, according to the apt words of Daniyar Ashimbayev, did a flip-flop several times during the recent years. As was mentioned earlier, after the tragic January events the sociologists recorded a dramatic rise of the level of trust to Tokayev personally and to the institute of presidency in general. All other political institutes of Kazakhstan judicial and parliamentary systems, executive power bodies and law enforcement agencies are far behind. [7]

The growing segmentation of voters and atomization of politics is another important conclusion to be made based on the outcomes of the recent election campaign. International observers noted that the turnout at the polling stations represented mainly the older generations (who are the TV viewers). As for younger people, who are so active in social media, they could be counted just using the fingers, especially at the polling stations in Almaty. [8] All the efforts of government to promote the so-called «youth policy» and hopes for the information power of social media turned out to be nothing but empty illusions. The political activity in social media looks more and more like polar lights mesmerizing glow changing its shape and color, but not leading to any useful action. A similar multi-colored picture could be seen among the candidates from the single-mandate constituencies. Hundreds of different self-nominees having come to believe in their uniqueness and easy-win based solely on the number of «likes» they were receiving in Twitter* the comments of their friends in the echo-cambers of social media, all of a sudden confronted the cruel reality. It was interesting that the self-nominees did not attempt to organize any alliances or to withdraw themselves in favor of each other, but rather demonstrated a grotesque example of the «out-and-out war» described by Hobbes.

Eventually this leads us to the question about new forms of political participation in the modern rapidly changing society. The mass political parties, which we are used to, are the product of the previous Modern era. They emerged in the society of mutual trust, the society well-structured by mass professions and communications. Today, the anomy society resembles more a Solaris ocean a similarity of the loosely bound and erratic sea foam consisting of individual «info-bubbles». The only way out of this deadlock seems to be in electronic remote voting allowing the «armchair voters» to express their political will as easily as ordering a cab or a pizza. However, the young generation is rather distrustful to this voting due to the possibility of manipulating the results and fixing the digital footprint. The fact that the younger generation does not have the possibilities for legal political representation is dangerous: it may provoke the unconventional forms of protest, such as violent nationalistic populism or radical Islamism. The Kazakhstan society is demographically growing and juvenescent, this Oedipus conflict of generations may become a serious problem of the near future.

Interim results

Overall, the recent parliamentary elections have successfully concluded the big electoral cycle. One year ago, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced an ambitious program of political modernization. The pressing transformations of Kazakhstan society were skillfully managed «from the top». The multi-stage electoral cycle was gradually changing the consolidated political landscape: the heavyweights of Nazarbayevs era were replaced by new politicians and Tokayevs appointees. The political rights and freedoms were step-by-step expanded with every new electoral campaign. Kazakhstan demonstrated the advanced dynamics of the political process and simultaneously was able to avoid the main mistakes of the Soviet «perestroika», which was performed chaotically and without a well-thought-out plan. The recent elections showed that the republican parliament significantly expanded the representation of different opinions, and the number of the political parties in the parliament doubled. Figuratively speaking, based on the outcomes of the elections, Kazakhstan moved to a new step of political pluralism.

New more competitive formation of the representative branch of power caused the unprecedented surge of civic engagement of the Kazakhs. Participation of over 10 thousand candidates in the parliamentary elections evidences the massive growth of self-consciousness and the demand for new faces in politics. In these complicated conditions the ruling party Amanat succeeded in winning these highly competitive elections. It received an impressive majority of votes for the party lists and in single-mandate constituencies as well. Eventually, the pro-President party Amanat confirmed its status as a ruling party. It is important that such a convincing victory was achieved without using the administrative resource. Five more parties of different political vectors will be working in the new Majilis together with Amanat. This will allow for the renewed parliament to take into account all the broad spectrum of the opinions and to timely adjust the policies of the country. The conclusion may be made about the political system of Kazakhstan migrating from the rigid post-Soviet model on single party dominance towards a more flexible and multi-party «peoples democracy».

Experts are emphasizing the main outcomes of the elections: in general, the voters supported the government and simultaneously expressed the will for the political renewal. At the same time, the campaign identified a number of serious problems and the objectives for the future. It became obvious, that the voters got tired of the long-lasting electoral race, which was demonstrated in the very low turnout during the parliamentary elections. The institute of presidency and Kassym-Jomart Tokayev himself today have the highest confidence rating with the population of the Republic of Kazakhstan; but the level of confidence to political parties and to the national parliament as a political institute turned out to be much lower. Probably, that was due to the infantilism and poor organization of a number of Kazakhstan politicians, especially among the opposition, and the self-nominees. At the same time, the low level of political engagement of the young generation was observed despite the newly introduced youth quota. Such conflict of generations and the growth of anomy is potentially dangerous in the demographically growing and juvenescent Kazakhstan. The government was successful in resolving two priority problems the renewal of the pool of professionals and political modernization; now two other serious challenges are awaiting the resolution social divide and the growing archaization. The new composition of the parliament should be instrumental in such resolution and should help President Tokayev in implementing the announced political course for building new Kazakhstan.


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