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The State-of-the-Nation outlined the political modernization in Kazakhstan

photo: parlam.kz
17 March 2022
Yuri SolozobovYuri Solozobov

Yuri Solozobov

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

On 16 March 2022, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan (RK), presented the extraordinary State-of-the-Nation address under the title: «New Kazakhstan: The Journey of Renewal and Modernization». He offered a lofty agenda of political reforms designed to capture the irreversible character of political modernization. In essence, this is a statement of complete abandonment of «Nazarbayevs model». In particular, the President announced the shift from super presidential regime to presidential republic with strong parliament. A number of the previous political structure elements, such as Assembly of People of Kazakhstan (APK), the party vertical, strong presidential control over the parliament and administration machine, were subject to noticeable revision. What changes is Kazakhstan to expect, and to what degree the government system will become different? [1]

January coup détat attempt

The first part of the State-of-the-Nation address was dedicated to the recent events of «tragic January». The President announced that the unrest in January was organized by some high-ranking officials. According to Tokayev, these «traitors», whose names he never pronounced, attempted to make a coup dtat and remove him from power. They quite skillfully took advantage of the social unrest and sent professionally trained armed insurgents to the southern capital. «High-ranking officials committed a treason; heads of military and specialized government agencies were among those traitors. They blocked the moves of military and law enforcement agencies, provided unreliable information about the situation in the cities to the country leaders, and even seized control over specialized government communication channels. They used all possible ways to destabilize the situation», Kassym-Jomart Tokayev emphasized.

Who was he talking about? Berik Asylov, the General Prosecutor of Kazakhstan announced before the State-of-the-Nation address was presented that the National Security Committee was conducting 15 investigations about treason, the attempt to seize power and bribe-taking on an especially large scale. The key figures in such cases were former leaders of the National Security Committee including the ex-chairman Karim Massimov and his three deputies including Samat Abish, the nephew of the first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, lieutenant general of national security. In the end of the last week another nephew of Nazarbayev was arrested in Almaty Kayrat Satybaldy, a billionaire and sponsor of local Salafis. According to the authorities, he is suspected of embezzlement and also «is under investigation due to his involvement in other crimes undermining the national security». Prior to that, some information appeared in media about arrest of Kayrat Boranbayev, a businessman, co-father-in-law of Dariga, the elder daughter of Nazarbayev, who just recently vacated her seat in the parliament. All the cases under investigation on the attempt of the coup dtat are classified as «top secret», and the information about repressions among the immediate entourage of Elbasy («Leader of the Nation» in Kazakh language, Nazarbayevs title starting from his third Presidency), about where the threads of conspiracy go this information is rigorously restricted. [2]

A well-informed Kazakh political analyst Daniyar Ashimbayev is sure that the former leader of the National Security Committee enlisted foreign help in advance, mainly on behalf of the US and the UK. He believes that in the context of increased tensions between the West and Russia, the West and China western intelligence services «could place their bets on destabilizing Kazakhstan by the hands of part of the elite not happy with President Tokayev and his course». After ousting the president and seizing power, this group would start winding down the integration with political associations, such as CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) and SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), would attempt to isolate Kazakhstan from its neighbors and enhance its dependence on western powers.

Implementation of such radical Islamic scenario in Kazakhstan is capable of strong complication of political situation in Russia and in China, as well as of destabilizing the situation in the North Caucasus, in the Volga region and in Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous District of China. This radicals raid across the Russian rear areas is very dangerous, especially in the context of the on-going acute conflict in Ukraine and the existing capabilities for mobilizing armed insurgents with the experience of fighting in Afghanistan and Syria. [3]

In the process of presenting the State-of-the-Nation, President Tokayev openly acknowledged that in January Kazakhstan actually stood on the brink of a catastrophe and could lose its sovereignty. Only urgent aid on behalf of CSTO helped to cope with the critical situation. However, in his speech Tokayev emphasized that CSTO was a collective organization, to which our country is a member among others. Then he stated: «You cannot underestimate the important role of the peace-making mission, but eventually we overpowered the bandits using our own resources».

The topic of «eternal gratitude for the rescue» very much favored by Russian media is extremely unpopular in both Kazakhstan political establishment and the society at large. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev does not need the image of a weak president forced to invite the CSTO troops. That is why the media attacks against Kazakhstan should be stopped, and it is better to focus on joint steps in the area of strengthening regional security and preventing the attempts to repeat the January events.

It is important that Kazakh power circles learn their lessons from the past. Three factors were the prime causes of the January events: duality of power, archaization and poverty. Immediately after the turmoil, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took some drastic actions to liquidate the duumvirate system. In his State-of-the-Nation the President declared the denial of political and economic power monopoly built on nepotism principles at the local level. According to Tokayev, the state became perceived as personal inherited estate, so one of the important lessons learnt from «tragic January» is that concentration of powers in the hands of the top state official unjustifiably strengthens the dominance of individuals and groups of financial oligarchs close to such officials.

Another very important statement of Tokayevs speech needs to be highlighted as well: «We will stand firm against the ignorance and archaicism, radicalism and parasitism, the consumption cult and corruption». In essence, for the first time the growing archaicism was recognized as a systemic problem in the upper tier. The next State-of-the-Nation is expected to be focused on social disparities and poverty reduction. It shows that in Ak Orda Presidential Palace there is an understanding of the depth of the existing problems and of the ways to solve them.

Self-restriction of the President

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev decided to start the new stage of political modernization with his own position. In the State-of-the-Nation he stated his refusal from excessive presidential powers. The most noticeable idea of the presentation was the proposal to impose a prohibition on the possibility for the closest relatives of the president to hold political governmental positions in the public and quasi-public sector. Erlan Karin, the State Secretary rushed to call it a new ethical standard for Kazakhstan. The main question is whether this idea becomes popular among local political circles, which has developed close family ties over the years and now constitutes an aggregation of affluent clans. [4]

The figure of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev per se looks very advantages in the framework of the new ethics and in the context of traditional nepotism. In the first place, he was suggested as successor being a politician equally distant from oligarch groups. Everyone knows that, and the initial Tokayevs «deficiency» quickly turns into an advantage. Secondly, the relatives of the second president do not use power as a feed box. For example, immediately after January events Tokayevs nephew Kanysh Izbastin voluntarily resigned from the position of the first deputy of the Management Board Chairman of JSC Bayterek National Management Holding. This is perceived as deliberate preparation to the forthcoming presidential campaign in Kazakhstan, where the tradition is to have extraordinary elections. [5]

Another idea of the State-of-the-Nation looks quite logical in this context «to formalize the presidents duty to terminate his/her party membership for the period of being in office». As we highlighted above, the President has the highest social credibility score in Kazakhstan, so for him it is beneficial to be re-elected as a non-partisan candidate. At the same time, the party of power Nur Otan carries the negative aftermath of mistakes, and even its rebranding (currently is called Amanat) could not improve the situation. That is why the State-of-the-Nation includes a series of proposals on de-partisation to raise the level of credibility towards the election system.

For example, it is proposed to deprive Akims (heads of local governments) and their deputies to take official positions in the territorial units of the party. Members of the Central Executive Committee, Accounts Committee for Control over Budget Execution and Constitutional Council will also ne non-partisan. Early election is a quite convenient option for the current officials. Why not go for a lead while President Tokayev gains points after January events, and his potential opponents among political heavyweights are either flawed or demoralized.

New political design

Another meaningful message of the State-of-the-Nation is a «definitive withdrawal from the super-presidential form of government and transition to the presidential republic with strong parliament». This entails the decrease of the presidential quota in the Senate (the upper chamber of the parliament) from 15 to 10 elected members (including 5 senators to be elected based on the recommendations of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan). It also means decrease of excessive presidential powers with respect to local governments, i.e., the President will no longer have the right to dismiss Akims or to cancel/suspend the local acts of the regions and cities of regional significance. Apparently, such decrease of presidential powers refers only to direct control over the lowest tiers of government, while the main functions of supreme power are preserved.

There are more material novelties in the State-of-the-Nation, and they refer to the balance between the activities of two chambers of the parliament. As anticipated, Kazakhstan will keep the parliament of two houses. The upper chamber will enhance its role as the body promoting the interests of the regions and various social and ethnical groups. The Senate will also keep the most important functions the guarding power (the standing body) and the vetting power (the possibility to approve or decline laws). However, the law-making process is to be fully transferred to the lower chamber the Majilis, which from now on be elected using the combined principles 70% on a party list basis and 30% on a district basis. The High Accounting Chamber is proposed to replace the Accounting Committee to enhance the parliamentary control over the quality of the Republican Budget execution. Such redesign of the parliamentary system is intended to enhance the role of the Majilis and to enhance the authority of the legislative branch of power.

Another interesting initiative of Tokayev is to establish National Kurultay, something like «the third camber» of the parliament. This consultative and advisory body will be established to substitute the former National Council of Public Confidence. According to the President, Kurultay will develop a standard institutional model for public dialogue». In addition to the former members of the National Council of Public Confidence, National Kurultay will comprise representatives of all the regions. On top of that, it will comprise some elected members of parliament, members of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan, Citizens Alliance, community boards and associations, influential public figures, representatives of business, industry and agriculture, as well as other citizens. This new institution seems to be similar to the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, it is intended to improve the interaction between the authorities and the citizens, and to systematize the public interest forces.

However, effective enhancement of parliamentarism is impossible without improvement of partisan and electoral systems. To achieve this objective, the State-of-the-Nation proposes simplification of the registration procedure for new parties. The registration threshold for the parties will be brought down from 20 to 5 thousand members. The minimally required number of branch members will be decreased three times from 600 to 200 persons, and the threshold for establishing a political party will be as low as 700 members. Party campaigns will be allowed in social media. And one of the most important things for the electorate will be the imperative mandate citizens will have the right to recall their representatives not acting up to their promises. All these novelties will help to canalize the accumulated social energy and legitimately utilize it in political field.

Kazakhstan experts believe that about a dozen of new political parties may appear in the country soon enough, for example, a «green» party. To avoid emergence of undesired external forces or «pocket parties» of oligarchs, it is proposed to establish limits for donations to campaign coffers. The restrictions for foreigners to prevent their participation in campaigns will be included into the legal framework. The intent of the developers of the State-of-the-Nation is to raise the interest of Kazakhstan citizens towards constructive political activities contrary to destructive spontaneous manifestations. As per the estimates by different analysts, the partisan system renewal will take at least one year. President Tokayev stated that before the end of 2022, 20 laws need to be adopted in Kazakhstan. At the same time, more than 30 articles of the Constitution will be amended. [6]

Interim results

The State-of-the-Nation delivered by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in March is entirely intended for domestic policy. Foreign political risks are presented in it as some invincible power or natural calamity «geopolitical storm» when Kazakhstan citizens will have to live and work despite of the external circumstances. Given all the bright reformist narrative, the State-of-the-Nation is a thoroughly elaborated document searching for a balanced political compromise. In the words of this document, Kazakhstan will have to go along the narrow path between the bog of stagnation and the catastrophe of reorganization.

The key to understanding the State-of-the-Nation is the novelty about indirect election of Akims of regions and metropolitan cities out of the two proposed candidates. On one hand, it will allow for assuring the uniformity of the implemented policy, and on the other hand it will provide a reasonable political alternative. This is about similar to the way Ak Orda sees the political modernization.

The accumulated political energy of masses is planned to be canalized in two areas. In the political field, the Kazakh society will be given a chance for «speaking out». The new law on media, the decrease of the threshold for creating a political party, enhancement of the role of parliament and establishing a new consultative and advisory institute (National Kurultay) all this is intended to implement this plan. In the everyday life this task will be resolved by decentralizing local government and changes in administrative and territorial structure. A significant part of the State-of-the-Nation is dedicated to substantial enhancement of powers of the local governments (maslikhats), to increased financing of the regions, to lifting the administration supervision off the local governments. Kazakhstan citizens are encouraged to «take the responsibility for their cities, districts and villages».

The growing difference of the political modernization vectors in Russia and in Kazakhstan call attention to itself. Currently the Russian Federation is moving towards conversion with Belarus mastering its rigid management practices; for example, leaving the Council of Europe and organizing public discussions about restoration of death penalty. On the contrary, President Tokayev proposes to amend the Constitution to finally fix the abolishment of death penalty. In his State-of-the-Nation he poses the question about Kazakhstan ratifying the European Charter of Local Self-Government and presents a series of other pan-European standards.

This obvious discrepancy between the stylistics of the time of peace and the time of war may present certain difficulties in political dialogue between Moscow and Nur-Sultan. However, in the mid-term perspective the successful modernization practices of Kazakhstan as a tested political «time machine» may turn out useful for the next political cycle.

According to experts, implementation of the objectives set in the State-of-the-Nation may take from six months to one year, given there are no changes of the external environment, of course. However, the pace of foreign political changes is so high today, that linear forecasts even for very short-term prospects may fail. Figuratively speaking, the «black swans» season is not over yet. So, we can face new unpleasant surprises from food crisis and the next strain of coronavirus to complete redesign of geographical and economic maps. Its quite possible, that the most relevant aspects of the State-of-the-Nation will be the proposals «to establish a crisis center and a situation headquarters to analyze data in real time mode and to develop specific emergency actions».

1: State-of-the-Nation by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to people of Kazakhstan. Ak Orda, 16.03.2022. https://www.akorda.kz/ru/poslanie-glavy-gosudarstva-kasym-zhomarta-tokaeva-narodu-kazahstana-1623953

2. The National Security Committee is conducting 15 investigations about treason and attempt to seize power. InformBuro, 14.03.2022. https://informburo.kz/novosti/mazilis-rassledovanie

3. Daniyar Ashimbayev about «western partners» of Karim Massimov. InformBuro, 16.03.2022. https://informburo.kz/stati/daniyar-asimbaev-o-zapadnyx-partnyorax-karima-masimova

4. New ethical standards set for the future leaders of the country. LITER, 16.03.2022. https://liter.kz/zadany-novye-eticheskie-standarty-dlia-budushchikh-liderov-strany-karin-1647424273/

5. Tokayevs nephew resigns the top management position in Bayterek to become a public activist. KazTAG, 14.01.2022. https://kaztag.kz/ru/news/plemyannik-tokaeva-uvolilsya-iz-top-menedzhmenta-baytereka-radi-obshchestvennoy-deyatelnosti

6. The path of reforms for Kazakhstan: what happens next? experts about Tokayevs State-of-the-Nation. Sputnik Kazakhstan, 16.03.2022. https://ru.sputnik.kz/20220316/reformy-kazakhstan-eksperty-poslani-tokaev-23575137.html

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Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies
Publications

The State-of-the-Nation outlined the political modernization in Kazakhstan

photo: parlam.kz
17 2022
Yuri Solozobov

Yuri Solozobov

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

On 16 March 2022, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan (RK), presented the extraordinary State-of-the-Nation address under the title: «New Kazakhstan: The Journey of Renewal and Modernization». He offered a lofty agenda of political reforms designed to capture the irreversible character of political modernization. In essence, this is a statement of complete abandonment of «Nazarbayevs model». In particular, the President announced the shift from super presidential regime to presidential republic with strong parliament. A number of the previous political structure elements, such as Assembly of People of Kazakhstan (APK), the party vertical, strong presidential control over the parliament and administration machine, were subject to noticeable revision. What changes is Kazakhstan to expect, and to what degree the government system will become different? [1]

January coup détat attempt

The first part of the State-of-the-Nation address was dedicated to the recent events of «tragic January». The President announced that the unrest in January was organized by some high-ranking officials. According to Tokayev, these «traitors», whose names he never pronounced, attempted to make a coup dtat and remove him from power. They quite skillfully took advantage of the social unrest and sent professionally trained armed insurgents to the southern capital. «High-ranking officials committed a treason; heads of military and specialized government agencies were among those traitors. They blocked the moves of military and law enforcement agencies, provided unreliable information about the situation in the cities to the country leaders, and even seized control over specialized government communication channels. They used all possible ways to destabilize the situation», Kassym-Jomart Tokayev emphasized.

Who was he talking about? Berik Asylov, the General Prosecutor of Kazakhstan announced before the State-of-the-Nation address was presented that the National Security Committee was conducting 15 investigations about treason, the attempt to seize power and bribe-taking on an especially large scale. The key figures in such cases were former leaders of the National Security Committee including the ex-chairman Karim Massimov and his three deputies including Samat Abish, the nephew of the first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, lieutenant general of national security. In the end of the last week another nephew of Nazarbayev was arrested in Almaty Kayrat Satybaldy, a billionaire and sponsor of local Salafis. According to the authorities, he is suspected of embezzlement and also «is under investigation due to his involvement in other crimes undermining the national security». Prior to that, some information appeared in media about arrest of Kayrat Boranbayev, a businessman, co-father-in-law of Dariga, the elder daughter of Nazarbayev, who just recently vacated her seat in the parliament. All the cases under investigation on the attempt of the coup dtat are classified as «top secret», and the information about repressions among the immediate entourage of Elbasy («Leader of the Nation» in Kazakh language, Nazarbayevs title starting from his third Presidency), about where the threads of conspiracy go this information is rigorously restricted. [2]

A well-informed Kazakh political analyst Daniyar Ashimbayev is sure that the former leader of the National Security Committee enlisted foreign help in advance, mainly on behalf of the US and the UK. He believes that in the context of increased tensions between the West and Russia, the West and China western intelligence services «could place their bets on destabilizing Kazakhstan by the hands of part of the elite not happy with President Tokayev and his course». After ousting the president and seizing power, this group would start winding down the integration with political associations, such as CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) and SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), would attempt to isolate Kazakhstan from its neighbors and enhance its dependence on western powers.

Implementation of such radical Islamic scenario in Kazakhstan is capable of strong complication of political situation in Russia and in China, as well as of destabilizing the situation in the North Caucasus, in the Volga region and in Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous District of China. This radicals raid across the Russian rear areas is very dangerous, especially in the context of the on-going acute conflict in Ukraine and the existing capabilities for mobilizing armed insurgents with the experience of fighting in Afghanistan and Syria. [3]

In the process of presenting the State-of-the-Nation, President Tokayev openly acknowledged that in January Kazakhstan actually stood on the brink of a catastrophe and could lose its sovereignty. Only urgent aid on behalf of CSTO helped to cope with the critical situation. However, in his speech Tokayev emphasized that CSTO was a collective organization, to which our country is a member among others. Then he stated: «You cannot underestimate the important role of the peace-making mission, but eventually we overpowered the bandits using our own resources».

The topic of «eternal gratitude for the rescue» very much favored by Russian media is extremely unpopular in both Kazakhstan political establishment and the society at large. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev does not need the image of a weak president forced to invite the CSTO troops. That is why the media attacks against Kazakhstan should be stopped, and it is better to focus on joint steps in the area of strengthening regional security and preventing the attempts to repeat the January events.

It is important that Kazakh power circles learn their lessons from the past. Three factors were the prime causes of the January events: duality of power, archaization and poverty. Immediately after the turmoil, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took some drastic actions to liquidate the duumvirate system. In his State-of-the-Nation the President declared the denial of political and economic power monopoly built on nepotism principles at the local level. According to Tokayev, the state became perceived as personal inherited estate, so one of the important lessons learnt from «tragic January» is that concentration of powers in the hands of the top state official unjustifiably strengthens the dominance of individuals and groups of financial oligarchs close to such officials.

Another very important statement of Tokayevs speech needs to be highlighted as well: «We will stand firm against the ignorance and archaicism, radicalism and parasitism, the consumption cult and corruption». In essence, for the first time the growing archaicism was recognized as a systemic problem in the upper tier. The next State-of-the-Nation is expected to be focused on social disparities and poverty reduction. It shows that in Ak Orda Presidential Palace there is an understanding of the depth of the existing problems and of the ways to solve them.

Self-restriction of the President

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev decided to start the new stage of political modernization with his own position. In the State-of-the-Nation he stated his refusal from excessive presidential powers. The most noticeable idea of the presentation was the proposal to impose a prohibition on the possibility for the closest relatives of the president to hold political governmental positions in the public and quasi-public sector. Erlan Karin, the State Secretary rushed to call it a new ethical standard for Kazakhstan. The main question is whether this idea becomes popular among local political circles, which has developed close family ties over the years and now constitutes an aggregation of affluent clans. [4]

The figure of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev per se looks very advantages in the framework of the new ethics and in the context of traditional nepotism. In the first place, he was suggested as successor being a politician equally distant from oligarch groups. Everyone knows that, and the initial Tokayevs «deficiency» quickly turns into an advantage. Secondly, the relatives of the second president do not use power as a feed box. For example, immediately after January events Tokayevs nephew Kanysh Izbastin voluntarily resigned from the position of the first deputy of the Management Board Chairman of JSC Bayterek National Management Holding. This is perceived as deliberate preparation to the forthcoming presidential campaign in Kazakhstan, where the tradition is to have extraordinary elections. [5]

Another idea of the State-of-the-Nation looks quite logical in this context «to formalize the presidents duty to terminate his/her party membership for the period of being in office». As we highlighted above, the President has the highest social credibility score in Kazakhstan, so for him it is beneficial to be re-elected as a non-partisan candidate. At the same time, the party of power Nur Otan carries the negative aftermath of mistakes, and even its rebranding (currently is called Amanat) could not improve the situation. That is why the State-of-the-Nation includes a series of proposals on de-partisation to raise the level of credibility towards the election system.

For example, it is proposed to deprive Akims (heads of local governments) and their deputies to take official positions in the territorial units of the party. Members of the Central Executive Committee, Accounts Committee for Control over Budget Execution and Constitutional Council will also ne non-partisan. Early election is a quite convenient option for the current officials. Why not go for a lead while President Tokayev gains points after January events, and his potential opponents among political heavyweights are either flawed or demoralized.

New political design

Another meaningful message of the State-of-the-Nation is a «definitive withdrawal from the super-presidential form of government and transition to the presidential republic with strong parliament». This entails the decrease of the presidential quota in the Senate (the upper chamber of the parliament) from 15 to 10 elected members (including 5 senators to be elected based on the recommendations of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan). It also means decrease of excessive presidential powers with respect to local governments, i.e., the President will no longer have the right to dismiss Akims or to cancel/suspend the local acts of the regions and cities of regional significance. Apparently, such decrease of presidential powers refers only to direct control over the lowest tiers of government, while the main functions of supreme power are preserved.

There are more material novelties in the State-of-the-Nation, and they refer to the balance between the activities of two chambers of the parliament. As anticipated, Kazakhstan will keep the parliament of two houses. The upper chamber will enhance its role as the body promoting the interests of the regions and various social and ethnical groups. The Senate will also keep the most important functions the guarding power (the standing body) and the vetting power (the possibility to approve or decline laws). However, the law-making process is to be fully transferred to the lower chamber the Majilis, which from now on be elected using the combined principles 70% on a party list basis and 30% on a district basis. The High Accounting Chamber is proposed to replace the Accounting Committee to enhance the parliamentary control over the quality of the Republican Budget execution. Such redesign of the parliamentary system is intended to enhance the role of the Majilis and to enhance the authority of the legislative branch of power.

Another interesting initiative of Tokayev is to establish National Kurultay, something like «the third camber» of the parliament. This consultative and advisory body will be established to substitute the former National Council of Public Confidence. According to the President, Kurultay will develop a standard institutional model for public dialogue». In addition to the former members of the National Council of Public Confidence, National Kurultay will comprise representatives of all the regions. On top of that, it will comprise some elected members of parliament, members of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan, Citizens Alliance, community boards and associations, influential public figures, representatives of business, industry and agriculture, as well as other citizens. This new institution seems to be similar to the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, it is intended to improve the interaction between the authorities and the citizens, and to systematize the public interest forces.

However, effective enhancement of parliamentarism is impossible without improvement of partisan and electoral systems. To achieve this objective, the State-of-the-Nation proposes simplification of the registration procedure for new parties. The registration threshold for the parties will be brought down from 20 to 5 thousand members. The minimally required number of branch members will be decreased three times from 600 to 200 persons, and the threshold for establishing a political party will be as low as 700 members. Party campaigns will be allowed in social media. And one of the most important things for the electorate will be the imperative mandate citizens will have the right to recall their representatives not acting up to their promises. All these novelties will help to canalize the accumulated social energy and legitimately utilize it in political field.

Kazakhstan experts believe that about a dozen of new political parties may appear in the country soon enough, for example, a «green» party. To avoid emergence of undesired external forces or «pocket parties» of oligarchs, it is proposed to establish limits for donations to campaign coffers. The restrictions for foreigners to prevent their participation in campaigns will be included into the legal framework. The intent of the developers of the State-of-the-Nation is to raise the interest of Kazakhstan citizens towards constructive political activities contrary to destructive spontaneous manifestations. As per the estimates by different analysts, the partisan system renewal will take at least one year. President Tokayev stated that before the end of 2022, 20 laws need to be adopted in Kazakhstan. At the same time, more than 30 articles of the Constitution will be amended. [6]

Interim results

The State-of-the-Nation delivered by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in March is entirely intended for domestic policy. Foreign political risks are presented in it as some invincible power or natural calamity «geopolitical storm» when Kazakhstan citizens will have to live and work despite of the external circumstances. Given all the bright reformist narrative, the State-of-the-Nation is a thoroughly elaborated document searching for a balanced political compromise. In the words of this document, Kazakhstan will have to go along the narrow path between the bog of stagnation and the catastrophe of reorganization.

The key to understanding the State-of-the-Nation is the novelty about indirect election of Akims of regions and metropolitan cities out of the two proposed candidates. On one hand, it will allow for assuring the uniformity of the implemented policy, and on the other hand it will provide a reasonable political alternative. This is about similar to the way Ak Orda sees the political modernization.

The accumulated political energy of masses is planned to be canalized in two areas. In the political field, the Kazakh society will be given a chance for «speaking out». The new law on media, the decrease of the threshold for creating a political party, enhancement of the role of parliament and establishing a new consultative and advisory institute (National Kurultay) all this is intended to implement this plan. In the everyday life this task will be resolved by decentralizing local government and changes in administrative and territorial structure. A significant part of the State-of-the-Nation is dedicated to substantial enhancement of powers of the local governments (maslikhats), to increased financing of the regions, to lifting the administration supervision off the local governments. Kazakhstan citizens are encouraged to «take the responsibility for their cities, districts and villages».

The growing difference of the political modernization vectors in Russia and in Kazakhstan call attention to itself. Currently the Russian Federation is moving towards conversion with Belarus mastering its rigid management practices; for example, leaving the Council of Europe and organizing public discussions about restoration of death penalty. On the contrary, President Tokayev proposes to amend the Constitution to finally fix the abolishment of death penalty. In his State-of-the-Nation he poses the question about Kazakhstan ratifying the European Charter of Local Self-Government and presents a series of other pan-European standards.

This obvious discrepancy between the stylistics of the time of peace and the time of war may present certain difficulties in political dialogue between Moscow and Nur-Sultan. However, in the mid-term perspective the successful modernization practices of Kazakhstan as a tested political «time machine» may turn out useful for the next political cycle.

According to experts, implementation of the objectives set in the State-of-the-Nation may take from six months to one year, given there are no changes of the external environment, of course. However, the pace of foreign political changes is so high today, that linear forecasts even for very short-term prospects may fail. Figuratively speaking, the «black swans» season is not over yet. So, we can face new unpleasant surprises from food crisis and the next strain of coronavirus to complete redesign of geographical and economic maps. Its quite possible, that the most relevant aspects of the State-of-the-Nation will be the proposals «to establish a crisis center and a situation headquarters to analyze data in real time mode and to develop specific emergency actions».

1: State-of-the-Nation by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to people of Kazakhstan. Ak Orda, 16.03.2022. https://www.akorda.kz/ru/poslanie-glavy-gosudarstva-kasym-zhomarta-tokaeva-narodu-kazahstana-1623953

2. The National Security Committee is conducting 15 investigations about treason and attempt to seize power. InformBuro, 14.03.2022. https://informburo.kz/novosti/mazilis-rassledovanie

3. Daniyar Ashimbayev about «western partners» of Karim Massimov. InformBuro, 16.03.2022. https://informburo.kz/stati/daniyar-asimbaev-o-zapadnyx-partnyorax-karima-masimova

4. New ethical standards set for the future leaders of the country. LITER, 16.03.2022. https://liter.kz/zadany-novye-eticheskie-standarty-dlia-budushchikh-liderov-strany-karin-1647424273/

5. Tokayevs nephew resigns the top management position in Bayterek to become a public activist. KazTAG, 14.01.2022. https://kaztag.kz/ru/news/plemyannik-tokaeva-uvolilsya-iz-top-menedzhmenta-baytereka-radi-obshchestvennoy-deyatelnosti

6. The path of reforms for Kazakhstan: what happens next? experts about Tokayevs State-of-the-Nation. Sputnik Kazakhstan, 16.03.2022. https://ru.sputnik.kz/20220316/reformy-kazakhstan-eksperty-poslani-tokaev-23575137.html