ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN - Parliamentary elections, the ruling party reduces its membership

Thursday, 23 March 2023 politics   elections  

Astana (Agenzia Fides) - "Starting from the downsizing of the Party that has always been in power, there are signs of great movements in the political field in Kazakhstan. There remains, in society, the question of the lack of ideal and cultural roots of political commitment, which thus risks being strongly conditioned by economic and regional interests": this was observed by Father Edoardo Canetta, former Apostolic Vicar of Central Asia, and former professor at the Institute of Diplomacy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, missionary in Kazakhstan for twenty years. Overall, observers noted that the candidates campaigned actively and freely for the vote of representatives in the Lower House of Parliament. Party messages tackled a wide range of social and economic issues, in a campaign that garnered much engagement in major cities and on online platforms.
The parliamentary elections follow the 2022 presidential elections in which Zhomart Tokaev was elected, succeeding independent Kazakhstan's first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, the country's absolute ruler until the recent past.
The ballot took place according to a new system where 70% of the seats were allocated by proportional representation to the parties and 30% to the candidates elected in single-member constituencies where the candidates sometimes presented themselves as independents. The bar to enter Parliament has been lowered from 7% to 5% to promote representativeness.
Regarding the votes obtained by the parties, the majority of the votes, ie 53.90%, went to the party of President Tokaev, called "Amanat", heir to the "Nur Otan" party of the former President. It should be noted that President Tokaev obtained 83% of the votes during the presidential elections. The party presents itself as the "protector of inter-ethnic and inter-religious social peace" and it is the party that is undergoing a significant reduction in its membership.
In a political landscape marked by a certain pluralism, the liberal party "Akh zhol" (which can be translated as "Sacred Way") won 8.4% of the vote. The national-democratic patriotic party "Auyl" (which means "village of nomads" in Kazakh) won 10.9% of the vote. It represents the interests of the agrarian world, which is of great importance in the country, especially with a view to creating an alternative to oil and heavy industry.
"The People's Party of Kazakhstan", which until 2004 referred to and was the Communist Party, representing Soviet society, received 6.8% of the vote, while the "Baitak" Party (literally in Kazakh means "without borders"), a party which would like to reconnect with the current of the European Greens, obtained only 2.30% of the votes, and will therefore not be able to enter Parliament.
The "Republic Party", which claims to represent "the discontented" who, nevertheless, would like to participate in the public sphere, has obtained 8.59% of the votes. We must also highlight the result of the "non-party" of the "Against All", which has obtained 3.9% of the votes: it will not enter Parliament, but they did not even want to.
The main problem in Kazakh politics is the transition from the regime of the first president Nursultan Nazarbaev to the president who wants to present himself as "more democratic" than his predecessor, Zomart Tokaev, re-elected last November.
The recent vote for Parliament comes at a delicate moment in the country's history, following widespread street clashes and popular protests in January 2022, in which 228 people were killed and many arrested.
On the other hand, in its relationship with Russia, Kazakhstan - which since 2002 has been a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), signed between Russia and a number of countries of the former USSR- not only has refused to participate in the war in Ukraine, not considering it a "defensive war", but is now "hosting" hundreds of thousands of young Russians fleeing military mobilization. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 23/3/2023)