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«Fair Kazakhstan to one and all. Now and for good»

photo: akorda.kz
28 October 2022
Yuri SolozobovYuri Solozobov

Yuri Solozobov

Candidate of Science, Physics and Mathematics, Regional Programs Director of CISS

Presidential race launched

The presidential race in Kazakhstan has entered into its final phase the phase of energetic campaigning and public presentation of the candidates programs. The incumbent President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was the first to cope with that, he visited his national campaign headquarters in Astana on October 26 and announced his election program «Fair Kazakhstan to one and all. Now and for good».

The program is based on the three founding principles: fair state, fair economy, fair society. The main slogan for K.-J. Tokayev is «the state is for people, not people for the state». In essence, the incumbent head of the state continues the general line towards building «new Kazakhstan» as a more fair and more democratic society with a stronger social focus. Earlier, we already had to emphasize that the accumulated demand for fairness was the core pillar of his previous state of the nation addresses, hence, it was developed in the recent pre-election theses. [1]

After the «tragic January» events, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev became the brightest «star» on the political horizon of Kazakhstan. The incumbent President received not just the full powers of the supremacy, but also a weighty credit of the public trust to implement a package of ambitious reforms. Immediately after putting the end to January commotion, Tokayev publicly promised big political change, and in June he organized a national referendum on amendments to the Constitution, which approved the establishment of the Constitutional Court, new forms of election of the Parliament and local self-government the Majilis and maslikhats. In September, only three months after the referendum, Tokayev again proposed new amendments to the RoK Constitution, including the change of the presidential term of office only one time for seven years. The President announced the new extraordinary presidential elections to be held in November based on this formula, and according to the most recent laws, this will be his last term.

There are six official candidates for the highest public position in Kazakhstan. However, even for a person not sophisticated in politics it is clear, that Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is an obvious favorite in this presidential race. Let us remind here that Tokayev was nominated candidate by three parliamentary parties the ruling Amanat party (previously Nur Otan), the Peoples Party of Kazakhstan and Aq Jol Democratic Party, as well as by a group of civic organizations within a broad «peoples coalition».

A week ago, on October 21, the Central Election Commission of Kazakhstan announced a final list of the presidential candidates. In addition to Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, it includes Jiguli Dayrabaev (Auyl party), Qaraqat Abden (Republican Public Association «National Alliance of Professional Community Workers»), Nurlan Auesbaev (Nationwide Social Democratic Party), Saltanat Tursynbekova (Republican Public Association «Kazakh Analary Desturge Jol»), Meiram Qajiken (Republican Public Association «Association of Trade Unions of Kazakhstan Amanat»). The other six nominees failed to pass the registration stage to collect the signatures and to comply with all the provisions of the election legislation. [2]

If we look closer, this mixed group of Tokayevs competitors represents the entire spectrum of political and  societal forces of Kazakhstan. Konstantin Petrov, the Deputy Chairman of the Central Election Commission, highlighted that among the six candidates there is one public official, one business community representative, and four representatives of non-governmental sector including one of a political party.

For the first time in the history of Kazakhstan, two women are among the presidential candidates. One of them is Qaraqat Abden is the author of the much-talked-of book «You are a Kazakh woman. Be proud of it!», in which she shared her views on the issues of bringing-up children, pubertal maturation, family and maternity. The other one is Saltanat Tursynbekova, Deputy Chairperson of the National Committee for  the Status of Women, for Family and Demographic Policy with the RoK President. During one of the press-conferences, she stated that as a candidate she is committed to follow the strategy defined by Tokayev. In this united team of political spoilers there is one real opposition representative, one person from the trade unions and one defender of agricultural workers.

Regional analysts believe that the incumbent President, who is an experienced diplomat and international player, is competing with little-known public figures without much political experience and bright reputation. They are sure that Tokayev may face the strongest competition only on behalf of the «against all» column of the ballot, which was recently introduced. All the other presidential race participants are acting in accordance with a well-known principle «warm up if not catch up». [3] The spoilers are being quite pragmatic and intend to get high profile and media promotion shortly before the forthcoming presidential election.

One more interesting moment is connected with the nominees who failed to pass the pre-election registration. For example, the politician Amirjan Qosanov, who finished the second at the previous presidential race in 2019. There were numerous talks about the possible revenge by «the old-timers». The following figures were named among them: Imangali Tasmagambetov, one of the potential Nazarbayevs successors, and influential financial actors Bulat Utermuratov, all of sudden becoming the targets of severe criticism in Kazakhstan media. But it seems that backstage arrangements and files with blackmail materials dented the political enthusiasm of many former heavy-weights. Eventually, the pre-election dash became a competition with the already-known finals.

The promises of candidate Tokayev

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as the registered candidate delivered a speech at his national campaign headquarters. His election program, as was mentioned above, has the title «Fair Kazakhstan to one and all. Now and for good». It is based on the three founding principles: fair state, fair economy, fair society. The head of the state believes that a big number of systemic problems has accumulated in social sphere, economy and political life of Kazakhstan. This caused the growth of citizens distrust towards the state and now hampers the sustainable development of Kazakhstan. «Now the idea of fairness becomes the priority of our state policy. The idea of fairness will entirely penetrate into our national ideology», Tokayev stated. The President of Kazakhstan also believes that «such features as strong work ethic, educational drive, respect for law and public tranquility, rejection of ambitions and radicalism, disgust for greed and wastefulness, for parasitism and passivity, human respect, benevolence and mutual help should become part of our cultural code». [4]

Regional analysts note that all the previous attempts to modernize the state and the economy in the FSU countries failed to a great extent due to the poor quality of human capital and to the semi-criminal traditions, which were promoted as social convention during the first decades of their independence. «In the context of archaization of social regulations, nepotism and monopolization of political and economic resources, the concept of fairness and justice assumed an absolutely different meaning. Such «justice» could be bought or begged for», Daniyar Ashimbayev, a well-known political analyst in Kazakhstan, writes in his Telegram-channel. Today, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev proposes quite a different approach for Kazakhstan citizens. «Some call this ideology Confucianism, some Protestant Ethic, but in our specific local conditions Tokayevs strategy is common sense, first of all», the political analyst concludes.

It means that the incumbent President made a  claim for ideological destruction of the entire previous government system, which was ironically called «peoples mafias formation» by Sabit Jusupov, a philosopher from Kazakhstan. Its essential feature was in replacing many basic institutions of the post-Soviet state (either being initially weak and underdeveloped, or being just «festive scenery of the «mock democracy») with informal connections and «shadow arbitration». At the first phase of gaining the independence, both the ruling circles and the vast social masses were satisfied with such system: for the first ones, it provided privileged access to assets and super-profits, for the others the possibility to live the traditional life using personal connections when justice was needed. «The activities of the monopolies and businessmen close to the government hampered the competition development and deprived prudent businessmen any chances for success. It resulted in the rich becoming richer, and the poor becoming impoverished even more and losing public confidence in the government», Tokayev remarked in his speech.

Hence, at a certain stage the evolved conformist corporatism turned into a drag for economic and social development. It resulted in dramatic inequalities, noticeable estrangement of the majority of citizens from the state governance and growing archaization of the masses. These two factors archaization and inequalities together with conflict within the elites became the root causes for the «tragic January» events. Kazakhstan authorities derived the due lessons out of that situation, hence, the main efforts of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev are focused on relaunching government institutes and creating the transparent public controls system. In his election program, the President of Kazakhstan paid his main attention to such objectives as de-monopolization of the national economy and in a broader sense of the entire government system. In his opinion, only one 7-year presidential term will provide the new quality and dynamics to the process of renewing the state and the society. This will create a reliable shield against any attempts to monopolize and even grab power.

The idea of Ak-Orda is that fundamental change of the election system should provide for broad citizens participation in forming the representative power bodies, which will be implemented in the course of the forthcoming elections to Majilis and maslikhats. The reform of the law enforcement and judicial systems  is one of the key priorities of the election program, because these spheres raise a lot of criticism by the citizens of Kazakhstan. «A highly skilled professional, honest and incorrupt judiciary will be developed», Tokayev promises. «The excessively oppressive bias in execution of justice will soon be replaced with «efficient civil legal proceedings using modern technology and mediation techniques». The judicial reform is Tokayevs «pet project», and back from the time of the Russian tzar Alexander II (the promoter of various reforms) it is viewed as the best remedy for overcoming corruption and nepotism. «We will consistently adhere to the formula: the state is for people, not people for the state», Kassym-Jomart Tokayev summarized.

A big part of Tokayevs election program is dedicated to practical tasks of overcoming the social tension in Kazakhstan society. The incumbent President talks about the most painful issues: healthcare, education, youth affairs and financial wellbeing of average citizens. «A well-developed social infrastructure and broad opportunities for personal fulfillment will be created, and fair social policy will be implemented», Tokayev promises. For example, all six and a half million children irrespective of their residence will have equal access to knowledge and educational infrastructure, and children between 2 and 6 years of age will be fully covered by pre-school education. In healthcare, modernization of the oncology segment is planned, as well as developing the primary treatment system and establishing specialized medical centers from perinatal  to cerebrovascular ones. Special quotes for youth in community councils and concessional loans for entrepreneurs are stipulated.

There is no need to list all the social support measures proposed in Tokayevs election program, it will be enough to say that Kazakhstan authorities are aware of social problems and understand their significancy for maintaining political stability.

Geo-economic aspects

Overall, the election program of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is of a clearly domestic political character and is  strongly focused on social and economic issues. It practically does not reflect any foreign policy aspects, except for the ritual formula of «promoting the global role of the United Nations and creating the better harmonized and fair international relations». Frankly speaking, there is no special need for Ak-Orda to emphasize these aspects, especially after a series of successful summits in Astana and personal meetings of the President of Kazakhstan practically with all the key global actors. At this preliminary stage, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, being an experienced diplomat, successfully provided for international legitimation of his future re-election. For the Russian audience, the geo-political aspects of Tokayevs election program are of special interest, and they may be found in the sectors dedicated to the economy in general, transport, infrastructure and construction. [5]

In the current global context, the role of Kazakhstan as a transit hub and buffer economic zone becomes more and more important for Russia. Recently, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at the meeting with the citizens of the Almaty region said that over 50 international corporations relocated their Russian offices to Kazakhstan in the environment of the sanctions war and about 300 other companies are considering such relocation. The election program clearly fixed this trend of the economic boost. During the next 7 years, Kazakhstan intends to attract USD 150 bn of foreign direct investment and to increase the National Fund assets up to USD 100 bn. The priority tasks for the national economy will be growth of the processing industries, infrastructure upgrade, increase of the electricity generating capacity. New industries producing high value-added products will be established. The leaders of Kazakhstan understand perfectly well, that the current changes in the previously existing export structure and in traditional value chains are here stay, that is why they undertake energetic measures to develop new logistics in the Caspian Region.

According to Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the international Trans-Caspian transport route will be the main interface facilitating fuller implementation of Kazakhstans transit and export potential. «We will reinforce our seaports and fleet, and establish the container hub in the Caspian Region. In addition, we will launch a network of the near-border commercial centers for trading with Russia, China and Central Asian countries. We will repair 11 thou km of railways. We will launch railway lines Dostyk Mojynty, Darbaza Maktaaral, spur track around Almaty, railway crossing Bakhty on the border with China», Tokayev stated at the regional campaign headquarters. Because Western sanctions can have a dramatic negative effect on traditional routes for exporting energy from Kazakhstan, the stake is for domestic consumption and processing of hydrocarbons. The domestic market will be saturated with the key types of petroleum products by increasing crude refining up to 21 mln tonnes per annum. New gas processing plants will be commissioned, 60% of the country will be gasified.

The analysts note that simultaneously with publishing Tokayevs election program an extensive report by Eurasian Development Bank (EUDB) on developing the North-South International Transport Corridor (ITC) was published, and to a great extent these two documents are very close. EADB calls the North-South ITC a key element of the Eurasian transportation framework, and its role increases in the environment of forming the «new logistics». The projects of building and upgrading transport infrastructure are being implemented at all the routes of the North-South ITC. The total investment into such major infrastructure projects is USD 38.2 bn. If we are to discuss different countries separately, Russia plans to invest USD 13.2 bn, Iran USD 12.87 bn, Kazakhstan USD 6.32 bn, and all the other states USD 6.7 bn. [6]

The North-South ITC provides for the shortest distances of cargo traffic between the EAEU countries and South Asia, East Africa and Middle East, including such roues as Russia Turkey and China Iran. Kazakhstan is a major strategic hub of this geo-economic structure, that is why successful implementation of Tokayevs election program and stability of our neighbor for the next seven years are extremely important for the economic development of Russia.

Preliminary conclusions

The presidential race in Kazakhstan is now developing in a positive way. At the stage of nominating the candidates the current authorities were successful in assuring representation of practically all political forces and public strata of the society. At the stage of registration, all the known mavericks and non-systemic players capable of devaluating the election process were blocked off. Ak-Orda was also successful in  avoiding the nomination of alternative heavyweights from the old-timers, which could become the opposition consolidation centers.

The incumbent President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev convincingly demonstrated his best features of the professional diplomat and internationally recognized influential politician. He successfully organized a number of prominent international summits in Astana and a series of personal meetings with influential global players. This was key for achieving international legitimation of his forthcoming re-election.

In the domestic policy sphere President Tokayev demonstrated lack of political alternatives and confirmed the capabilities of Ak-Orda to generate new narratives and positive goals. His election program is saturated with acute social issues and simultaneously provides understandable and realistic ways of resolving them. Practically, this does not leave any chances for his potential rivals if they want to be bright populists and critics.

On top of that, the current authorities have enough tools and resources to neutralize possible social upheavals during the pre-election period. The combination of the presidential and the parliamentary elections allowed for shifting the public attention focus at the forthcoming elections to Majilis and maslikhats. The majority of ambitious politicians in Kazakhstan are quite realistic in assessing their low chances of winning the swift-passing presidential race and pragmatically place their stakes at the future parliamentary elections in the single-mandate constituencies. This allows for Ak-Orda to resolve two tasks simultaneously: to low the temperature around the presidential race and stimulate the society to participate in politics in line with the new patterns proposed from the top.

The geo-economic aspects of Tokayevs election program evidence the commitment of Kazakhstan leaders to build the «new logistics» in the Caspian Region. In this sphere the strategic plans of Moscow and Astana are practically similar: both parties are making a stake at the North-South ITC development. Massive modernization of the existing infrastructure and building new logistical hubs are required to assure the multi-fold increase of the cargo traffic, and Kazakhstan is casted the keystone role in all this geo-economic structure.

A lot will depend on political stability of our close neighbor for the forthcoming seven years and on smooth cooperation in resolving the common tasks. This is one of the strong reasons why Russia is fully supportive of re-election of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as a reliable and results-oriented partner during the following 7-year period. This again confirms the point of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies about deep mutual connections of Russia and Kazakhstan, which prevent both parties from abrupt moves.

In the new geopolitical reality after 24 February 2022, it turned out that Russia had two strategic allies Kazakhstan and Turkey. They both assist our country in resolving many sensitive issues of economy, logistics, technology and finance, though often they keep low profile in doing that and certainly respect their own national interests. Recently Moscow was talking to Astana almost exclusively using the «megaphone diplomacy» or «yellow» political talk shows. Now the time is different, and we have calm and thoughtful  discussions with our strategic partner.

The election campaign of President Tokayev provides for a great opportunity to organize on-going expert dialogue required for clarifying the positions of the parties, for thorough study of the problems and for developing the common vision of the future. A working meeting of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev with the leading Russian analysts and political experts could be one of the first steps, where Kazakhstan leaders could explain their views in detail. We are sure, both countries would benefit from that, as they are «God-blessed neighbors», according to Tokayevs apt remark.

1. «Together we will build a fair Kazakhstan the country of free citizens»: Tokayev. Express K 26.10.2022 https://exk.kz/news/146102/vmiestie-my-postroim-spraviedlivyi-kazakhstan-nil-stranu-svobodnykh-ghrazhdan-tokaiev

2. Six candidates for presidency registered. Who and why failed to continue the race. Informburo.kz, 21.10.2022. https://informburo.kz/stati/zaregistrirovany-sest-kandidatov-v-prezidenty-kto-i-pocemu-ne-smog-prodolzit-borbu

3. 11 candidates for presidency: «warm up if not catch up». Forbes Kazakhstan, 18.10.2022. https://forbes.kz/massmedia/11_kandidatov_v_prezidentyi_ne_dobejim_tak_sogreemsya/

4. Tokayev: Every person, who is in need of support, should feel personal care on behalf of the government. Informburo.kz, 26.10.2022. https://informburo.kz/novosti/tokaev-kazhdyj-chelovek-nuzhdayushijsya-v-podderzhke-dolzhen-chuvstvovat-personalnuyu-zabotu-gosudarstva

5. Tokayevs promises withing his campaigning. Kursiv, 26.10.2022. https://kz.kursiv.media/2022-10-26/chto-poobeshhal-tokaev-v-ramkah-predvybornoj-agitacii/

6. The role of the North-South ITC is growing in the context of reinstating the transport connections EADB. SPUTNIK Azerbaijan, 26.10.2022. https://az.sputniknews.ru/20221026/rol-mtk-sever--yug-vozrastaet-v-usloviyakh-vosstanovleniya-transportnykh-svyazey--eabr-447883958.html

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Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies
Publications

«Fair Kazakhstan to one and all. Now and for good»

photo: akorda.kz
28 2022
Yuri Solozobov

Yuri Solozobov

Candidate of Science, Physics and Mathematics, Regional Programs Director of CISS

Presidential race launched

The presidential race in Kazakhstan has entered into its final phase the phase of energetic campaigning and public presentation of the candidates programs. The incumbent President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was the first to cope with that, he visited his national campaign headquarters in Astana on October 26 and announced his election program «Fair Kazakhstan to one and all. Now and for good».

The program is based on the three founding principles: fair state, fair economy, fair society. The main slogan for K.-J. Tokayev is «the state is for people, not people for the state». In essence, the incumbent head of the state continues the general line towards building «new Kazakhstan» as a more fair and more democratic society with a stronger social focus. Earlier, we already had to emphasize that the accumulated demand for fairness was the core pillar of his previous state of the nation addresses, hence, it was developed in the recent pre-election theses. [1]

After the «tragic January» events, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev became the brightest «star» on the political horizon of Kazakhstan. The incumbent President received not just the full powers of the supremacy, but also a weighty credit of the public trust to implement a package of ambitious reforms. Immediately after putting the end to January commotion, Tokayev publicly promised big political change, and in June he organized a national referendum on amendments to the Constitution, which approved the establishment of the Constitutional Court, new forms of election of the Parliament and local self-government the Majilis and maslikhats. In September, only three months after the referendum, Tokayev again proposed new amendments to the RoK Constitution, including the change of the presidential term of office only one time for seven years. The President announced the new extraordinary presidential elections to be held in November based on this formula, and according to the most recent laws, this will be his last term.

There are six official candidates for the highest public position in Kazakhstan. However, even for a person not sophisticated in politics it is clear, that Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is an obvious favorite in this presidential race. Let us remind here that Tokayev was nominated candidate by three parliamentary parties the ruling Amanat party (previously Nur Otan), the Peoples Party of Kazakhstan and Aq Jol Democratic Party, as well as by a group of civic organizations within a broad «peoples coalition».

A week ago, on October 21, the Central Election Commission of Kazakhstan announced a final list of the presidential candidates. In addition to Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, it includes Jiguli Dayrabaev (Auyl party), Qaraqat Abden (Republican Public Association «National Alliance of Professional Community Workers»), Nurlan Auesbaev (Nationwide Social Democratic Party), Saltanat Tursynbekova (Republican Public Association «Kazakh Analary Desturge Jol»), Meiram Qajiken (Republican Public Association «Association of Trade Unions of Kazakhstan Amanat»). The other six nominees failed to pass the registration stage to collect the signatures and to comply with all the provisions of the election legislation. [2]

If we look closer, this mixed group of Tokayevs competitors represents the entire spectrum of political and  societal forces of Kazakhstan. Konstantin Petrov, the Deputy Chairman of the Central Election Commission, highlighted that among the six candidates there is one public official, one business community representative, and four representatives of non-governmental sector including one of a political party.

For the first time in the history of Kazakhstan, two women are among the presidential candidates. One of them is Qaraqat Abden is the author of the much-talked-of book «You are a Kazakh woman. Be proud of it!», in which she shared her views on the issues of bringing-up children, pubertal maturation, family and maternity. The other one is Saltanat Tursynbekova, Deputy Chairperson of the National Committee for  the Status of Women, for Family and Demographic Policy with the RoK President. During one of the press-conferences, she stated that as a candidate she is committed to follow the strategy defined by Tokayev. In this united team of political spoilers there is one real opposition representative, one person from the trade unions and one defender of agricultural workers.

Regional analysts believe that the incumbent President, who is an experienced diplomat and international player, is competing with little-known public figures without much political experience and bright reputation. They are sure that Tokayev may face the strongest competition only on behalf of the «against all» column of the ballot, which was recently introduced. All the other presidential race participants are acting in accordance with a well-known principle «warm up if not catch up». [3] The spoilers are being quite pragmatic and intend to get high profile and media promotion shortly before the forthcoming presidential election.

One more interesting moment is connected with the nominees who failed to pass the pre-election registration. For example, the politician Amirjan Qosanov, who finished the second at the previous presidential race in 2019. There were numerous talks about the possible revenge by «the old-timers». The following figures were named among them: Imangali Tasmagambetov, one of the potential Nazarbayevs successors, and influential financial actors Bulat Utermuratov, all of sudden becoming the targets of severe criticism in Kazakhstan media. But it seems that backstage arrangements and files with blackmail materials dented the political enthusiasm of many former heavy-weights. Eventually, the pre-election dash became a competition with the already-known finals.

The promises of candidate Tokayev

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as the registered candidate delivered a speech at his national campaign headquarters. His election program, as was mentioned above, has the title «Fair Kazakhstan to one and all. Now and for good». It is based on the three founding principles: fair state, fair economy, fair society. The head of the state believes that a big number of systemic problems has accumulated in social sphere, economy and political life of Kazakhstan. This caused the growth of citizens distrust towards the state and now hampers the sustainable development of Kazakhstan. «Now the idea of fairness becomes the priority of our state policy. The idea of fairness will entirely penetrate into our national ideology», Tokayev stated. The President of Kazakhstan also believes that «such features as strong work ethic, educational drive, respect for law and public tranquility, rejection of ambitions and radicalism, disgust for greed and wastefulness, for parasitism and passivity, human respect, benevolence and mutual help should become part of our cultural code». [4]

Regional analysts note that all the previous attempts to modernize the state and the economy in the FSU countries failed to a great extent due to the poor quality of human capital and to the semi-criminal traditions, which were promoted as social convention during the first decades of their independence. «In the context of archaization of social regulations, nepotism and monopolization of political and economic resources, the concept of fairness and justice assumed an absolutely different meaning. Such «justice» could be bought or begged for», Daniyar Ashimbayev, a well-known political analyst in Kazakhstan, writes in his Telegram-channel. Today, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev proposes quite a different approach for Kazakhstan citizens. «Some call this ideology Confucianism, some Protestant Ethic, but in our specific local conditions Tokayevs strategy is common sense, first of all», the political analyst concludes.

It means that the incumbent President made a  claim for ideological destruction of the entire previous government system, which was ironically called «peoples mafias formation» by Sabit Jusupov, a philosopher from Kazakhstan. Its essential feature was in replacing many basic institutions of the post-Soviet state (either being initially weak and underdeveloped, or being just «festive scenery of the «mock democracy») with informal connections and «shadow arbitration». At the first phase of gaining the independence, both the ruling circles and the vast social masses were satisfied with such system: for the first ones, it provided privileged access to assets and super-profits, for the others the possibility to live the traditional life using personal connections when justice was needed. «The activities of the monopolies and businessmen close to the government hampered the competition development and deprived prudent businessmen any chances for success. It resulted in the rich becoming richer, and the poor becoming impoverished even more and losing public confidence in the government», Tokayev remarked in his speech.

Hence, at a certain stage the evolved conformist corporatism turned into a drag for economic and social development. It resulted in dramatic inequalities, noticeable estrangement of the majority of citizens from the state governance and growing archaization of the masses. These two factors archaization and inequalities together with conflict within the elites became the root causes for the «tragic January» events. Kazakhstan authorities derived the due lessons out of that situation, hence, the main efforts of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev are focused on relaunching government institutes and creating the transparent public controls system. In his election program, the President of Kazakhstan paid his main attention to such objectives as de-monopolization of the national economy and in a broader sense of the entire government system. In his opinion, only one 7-year presidential term will provide the new quality and dynamics to the process of renewing the state and the society. This will create a reliable shield against any attempts to monopolize and even grab power.

The idea of Ak-Orda is that fundamental change of the election system should provide for broad citizens participation in forming the representative power bodies, which will be implemented in the course of the forthcoming elections to Majilis and maslikhats. The reform of the law enforcement and judicial systems  is one of the key priorities of the election program, because these spheres raise a lot of criticism by the citizens of Kazakhstan. «A highly skilled professional, honest and incorrupt judiciary will be developed», Tokayev promises. «The excessively oppressive bias in execution of justice will soon be replaced with «efficient civil legal proceedings using modern technology and mediation techniques». The judicial reform is Tokayevs «pet project», and back from the time of the Russian tzar Alexander II (the promoter of various reforms) it is viewed as the best remedy for overcoming corruption and nepotism. «We will consistently adhere to the formula: the state is for people, not people for the state», Kassym-Jomart Tokayev summarized.

A big part of Tokayevs election program is dedicated to practical tasks of overcoming the social tension in Kazakhstan society. The incumbent President talks about the most painful issues: healthcare, education, youth affairs and financial wellbeing of average citizens. «A well-developed social infrastructure and broad opportunities for personal fulfillment will be created, and fair social policy will be implemented», Tokayev promises. For example, all six and a half million children irrespective of their residence will have equal access to knowledge and educational infrastructure, and children between 2 and 6 years of age will be fully covered by pre-school education. In healthcare, modernization of the oncology segment is planned, as well as developing the primary treatment system and establishing specialized medical centers from perinatal  to cerebrovascular ones. Special quotes for youth in community councils and concessional loans for entrepreneurs are stipulated.

There is no need to list all the social support measures proposed in Tokayevs election program, it will be enough to say that Kazakhstan authorities are aware of social problems and understand their significancy for maintaining political stability.

Geo-economic aspects

Overall, the election program of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is of a clearly domestic political character and is  strongly focused on social and economic issues. It practically does not reflect any foreign policy aspects, except for the ritual formula of «promoting the global role of the United Nations and creating the better harmonized and fair international relations». Frankly speaking, there is no special need for Ak-Orda to emphasize these aspects, especially after a series of successful summits in Astana and personal meetings of the President of Kazakhstan practically with all the key global actors. At this preliminary stage, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, being an experienced diplomat, successfully provided for international legitimation of his future re-election. For the Russian audience, the geo-political aspects of Tokayevs election program are of special interest, and they may be found in the sectors dedicated to the economy in general, transport, infrastructure and construction. [5]

In the current global context, the role of Kazakhstan as a transit hub and buffer economic zone becomes more and more important for Russia. Recently, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at the meeting with the citizens of the Almaty region said that over 50 international corporations relocated their Russian offices to Kazakhstan in the environment of the sanctions war and about 300 other companies are considering such relocation. The election program clearly fixed this trend of the economic boost. During the next 7 years, Kazakhstan intends to attract USD 150 bn of foreign direct investment and to increase the National Fund assets up to USD 100 bn. The priority tasks for the national economy will be growth of the processing industries, infrastructure upgrade, increase of the electricity generating capacity. New industries producing high value-added products will be established. The leaders of Kazakhstan understand perfectly well, that the current changes in the previously existing export structure and in traditional value chains are here stay, that is why they undertake energetic measures to develop new logistics in the Caspian Region.

According to Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the international Trans-Caspian transport route will be the main interface facilitating fuller implementation of Kazakhstans transit and export potential. «We will reinforce our seaports and fleet, and establish the container hub in the Caspian Region. In addition, we will launch a network of the near-border commercial centers for trading with Russia, China and Central Asian countries. We will repair 11 thou km of railways. We will launch railway lines Dostyk Mojynty, Darbaza Maktaaral, spur track around Almaty, railway crossing Bakhty on the border with China», Tokayev stated at the regional campaign headquarters. Because Western sanctions can have a dramatic negative effect on traditional routes for exporting energy from Kazakhstan, the stake is for domestic consumption and processing of hydrocarbons. The domestic market will be saturated with the key types of petroleum products by increasing crude refining up to 21 mln tonnes per annum. New gas processing plants will be commissioned, 60% of the country will be gasified.

The analysts note that simultaneously with publishing Tokayevs election program an extensive report by Eurasian Development Bank (EUDB) on developing the North-South International Transport Corridor (ITC) was published, and to a great extent these two documents are very close. EADB calls the North-South ITC a key element of the Eurasian transportation framework, and its role increases in the environment of forming the «new logistics». The projects of building and upgrading transport infrastructure are being implemented at all the routes of the North-South ITC. The total investment into such major infrastructure projects is USD 38.2 bn. If we are to discuss different countries separately, Russia plans to invest USD 13.2 bn, Iran USD 12.87 bn, Kazakhstan USD 6.32 bn, and all the other states USD 6.7 bn. [6]

The North-South ITC provides for the shortest distances of cargo traffic between the EAEU countries and South Asia, East Africa and Middle East, including such roues as Russia Turkey and China Iran. Kazakhstan is a major strategic hub of this geo-economic structure, that is why successful implementation of Tokayevs election program and stability of our neighbor for the next seven years are extremely important for the economic development of Russia.

Preliminary conclusions

The presidential race in Kazakhstan is now developing in a positive way. At the stage of nominating the candidates the current authorities were successful in assuring representation of practically all political forces and public strata of the society. At the stage of registration, all the known mavericks and non-systemic players capable of devaluating the election process were blocked off. Ak-Orda was also successful in  avoiding the nomination of alternative heavyweights from the old-timers, which could become the opposition consolidation centers.

The incumbent President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev convincingly demonstrated his best features of the professional diplomat and internationally recognized influential politician. He successfully organized a number of prominent international summits in Astana and a series of personal meetings with influential global players. This was key for achieving international legitimation of his forthcoming re-election.

In the domestic policy sphere President Tokayev demonstrated lack of political alternatives and confirmed the capabilities of Ak-Orda to generate new narratives and positive goals. His election program is saturated with acute social issues and simultaneously provides understandable and realistic ways of resolving them. Practically, this does not leave any chances for his potential rivals if they want to be bright populists and critics.

On top of that, the current authorities have enough tools and resources to neutralize possible social upheavals during the pre-election period. The combination of the presidential and the parliamentary elections allowed for shifting the public attention focus at the forthcoming elections to Majilis and maslikhats. The majority of ambitious politicians in Kazakhstan are quite realistic in assessing their low chances of winning the swift-passing presidential race and pragmatically place their stakes at the future parliamentary elections in the single-mandate constituencies. This allows for Ak-Orda to resolve two tasks simultaneously: to low the temperature around the presidential race and stimulate the society to participate in politics in line with the new patterns proposed from the top.

The geo-economic aspects of Tokayevs election program evidence the commitment of Kazakhstan leaders to build the «new logistics» in the Caspian Region. In this sphere the strategic plans of Moscow and Astana are practically similar: both parties are making a stake at the North-South ITC development. Massive modernization of the existing infrastructure and building new logistical hubs are required to assure the multi-fold increase of the cargo traffic, and Kazakhstan is casted the keystone role in all this geo-economic structure.

A lot will depend on political stability of our close neighbor for the forthcoming seven years and on smooth cooperation in resolving the common tasks. This is one of the strong reasons why Russia is fully supportive of re-election of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as a reliable and results-oriented partner during the following 7-year period. This again confirms the point of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies about deep mutual connections of Russia and Kazakhstan, which prevent both parties from abrupt moves.

In the new geopolitical reality after 24 February 2022, it turned out that Russia had two strategic allies Kazakhstan and Turkey. They both assist our country in resolving many sensitive issues of economy, logistics, technology and finance, though often they keep low profile in doing that and certainly respect their own national interests. Recently Moscow was talking to Astana almost exclusively using the «megaphone diplomacy» or «yellow» political talk shows. Now the time is different, and we have calm and thoughtful  discussions with our strategic partner.

The election campaign of President Tokayev provides for a great opportunity to organize on-going expert dialogue required for clarifying the positions of the parties, for thorough study of the problems and for developing the common vision of the future. A working meeting of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev with the leading Russian analysts and political experts could be one of the first steps, where Kazakhstan leaders could explain their views in detail. We are sure, both countries would benefit from that, as they are «God-blessed neighbors», according to Tokayevs apt remark.

1. «Together we will build a fair Kazakhstan the country of free citizens»: Tokayev. Express K 26.10.2022 https://exk.kz/news/146102/vmiestie-my-postroim-spraviedlivyi-kazakhstan-nil-stranu-svobodnykh-ghrazhdan-tokaiev

2. Six candidates for presidency registered. Who and why failed to continue the race. Informburo.kz, 21.10.2022. https://informburo.kz/stati/zaregistrirovany-sest-kandidatov-v-prezidenty-kto-i-pocemu-ne-smog-prodolzit-borbu

3. 11 candidates for presidency: «warm up if not catch up». Forbes Kazakhstan, 18.10.2022. https://forbes.kz/massmedia/11_kandidatov_v_prezidentyi_ne_dobejim_tak_sogreemsya/

4. Tokayev: Every person, who is in need of support, should feel personal care on behalf of the government. Informburo.kz, 26.10.2022. https://informburo.kz/novosti/tokaev-kazhdyj-chelovek-nuzhdayushijsya-v-podderzhke-dolzhen-chuvstvovat-personalnuyu-zabotu-gosudarstva

5. Tokayevs promises withing his campaigning. Kursiv, 26.10.2022. https://kz.kursiv.media/2022-10-26/chto-poobeshhal-tokaev-v-ramkah-predvybornoj-agitacii/

6. The role of the North-South ITC is growing in the context of reinstating the transport connections EADB. SPUTNIK Azerbaijan, 26.10.2022. https://az.sputniknews.ru/20221026/rol-mtk-sever--yug-vozrastaet-v-usloviyakh-vosstanovleniya-transportnykh-svyazey--eabr-447883958.html