Democratic Kazakhstan & parliamentary election 2021

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Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

Election is the “real essence” of modern democracy which determines a true and responsive political system, catering and establishing all democratic norms in a civilized society and the “Republic of Kazakhstan” is indeed a real “democratic” country.

Parliament election will be held on January 2021 in Kazakhstan in which hopefully all major political parties will rigorously participate to win “hearts and souls” of the     country-wide voters.

The Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan is the “highest” representative body which represents “collective wisdom”, “intellect” and “determination” to achieve a qualitative life. It minimizes gaps between the government and its people. It enhances connectivity among all the stakeholders in the prevailing political system in the country. The Republic of Kazakhstan is a unitary state with a presidential form of government.

From ancient courts of prophecies to modern days of white-house dynamics, human civilization and evolution of rule of law has been maintaining a direct correlation with electoral democracy in which democratic elections are deemed to be “competitive”, “attractive”, “regular”, “transparent”, “fair” and “free”. Common people/voters have “free” right to vote and elect their members/representatives in the political system. Moreover, competitive and popular majoritarian elections safeguard the vested interests of all the participating political parties in the elections and the Republic of Kazakhstan is no “exception”.

There have been no incident of pre/post-election engineering, political manipulation or administrative interference/maneuvering because every party and its candidates completely enjoy freedoms of speech, assembly and movement throughout Kazakhstan.

The constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan ensures the periodicity of elections, representative of various social groups in the government, openness and transparency of election authorities.

Deity of democracy prevails in the largest economy of the Central Asia, Kazakhstan where political pluralism, transparency and doctrine of equal right, protection of basic human rights and change of government has been conditional to “peaceful” fair and free electoral mechanism wherein every vote “counts” and majority determines the fate of rule.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has signed a decree scheduling the parliamentary elections for the Majilis (Parliament) for 10 January 2021. It will further strengthen process of “politicization” and “democratization” in the country embarking towards a “viable”, “valuable” and “liberal” democracy in the days to come. Kazakhstan needs robust socio-economic prosperity and sustainability of economic development which relies on positive, participatory and productive political system via successful parliamentary elections 2021.

Majilis is the lower chamber/National Assembly of the Kazakh Parliament consisting of 107 deputies who are elected for a five-year term. Nine deputies are elected from the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan, an advisory body under the president of Kazakhstan whose members are drawn from organisations representing major ethnic communities living in the country.

The Republic of Kazakhstan is a democratic country which implements all the international protocols pertaining to democratic traditions and norms in its country. Kazakhstan follows and respects all international laws/obligations to conduct free and competitive elections.

Elections of the presidency, parliament as well as local representative bodies are held in terms of utmost openness and complete transparency in compliance with national legislation and universally recognized principles for democratic elections, stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Protocol No. 1, 1952), Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the OSCE (1990).

The ruling Nur Otan party dominated political landscape of Kazakhstan and held 84 of the 98 directly-elected seats in the lower chamber of the parliament (Majilis) in parliament election of 2016. Six political parties participated in the elections 2016 and three of them, Nur Otan (82.2%), Ak Zhol Democratic Party of Kazakhstan (7.18%), the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan (7.14%), won the right to send their deputies to the chamber.

Currently, the Nur Otan party has a majority of 84 deputies in the Majilis, while the Ak Zhol and the Communist People’s party have 7 deputies each.

Kazakhstan is a presidential republic, with the president exercising wide powers, including the right to dissolve the parliament, to initiate and veto legislation, and to appoint the ministers of foreign affairs, interior and defence, as well as the chairperson and two members of the CEC.

The upper house is the Senate of Kazakhstan, with 47 members. Members of the Senate are elected on the basis of indirect suffrage by secret ballot, and half of the elected members are up for election every three years.

Fifteen members of the Senate are appointed by the President of Kazakhstan with the view to ensure representation for all the diverse national, cultural components of society. In August, seventeen Senate deputies from the nation’s 14 regions and cities of Nur-Sultan, Almaty and Shymkent were elected to the Senate. The renewed composition of the Kazakh parliament, it will focus on “quality legislative support for social and economic reforms in the country.

The government of Kazakhstan has now introduced valuable changes to provide more and more power to Senate and Majilis. Both have now granted greater authority to serve as a check & balance over the executive branch as a result of a number of amendments to the constitution. The Senate received greater decision making powers, including assuming the legislative powers of the Majilis if that house was dissolved by presidential decree prior to the end of its term. The parliament has now been vested with the ability to call a vote of no confidence on the government with a simple majority vote, as opposed to a 2/3 vote as required before.

The right to elect and to be elected is regulated by the Constitutional Act “On Elections in the Republic of Kazakhstan”, adopted in September 1995. According to the provisions of the Constitution and this Act the elections of the President, deputies of the Mazhilis of Parliament and of local representative bodies as well as members of local self-government bodies of the Republic of Kazakhstan are held on the basis of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot.

President of Kazakhstan introduced many meaningful political reforms in his country. The institute of parliamentary opposition has been initiated and in the political system due to which one chair and two secretaries of the Majilis standing committees will now be elected from the members of the parliamentary opposition. In addition, the parliamentary opposition will have the right to initiate parliamentary hearings at least once during one session and to set the agenda for the government hour at least twice during one session.

The Election Law provides a technical basis for the conduct of elections and safeguards & guarantees integrity of the process, especially Election Day procedures, counting and tabulation. The constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of assembly, expression, association, access to information, and the right to take part in political life, are guaranteed by the constitution.

Paragraph 20 of the 1996 UN CCPR General Comment 25 to the ICCPR requires that “an independent electoral authority should be established to supervise the electoral process and to ensure that it is conducted fairly, impartially and in accordance with established laws which are compatible with the Covenant and undoubtedly the Central Election Commission of Kazakhstan is an independent organization to hold a transparent, fair and free parliament elections in the country.

The political parties of Kazakhstan have begun their political preparations for the upcoming parliament election 2021. Nur Otan is a pro-presidential political party. Its chairman is Nursultan Nazarbayev, who remains in the office even after his resignation. And the current president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, was also nominated by this party. Since 2007, Nur Otan has been taking more than half of the votes in the elections to the Majlis (2007 – 88.41%, 2012 – 80.99%, 2016 – 82.20%).

Kazakhstan’s law on political parties prohibits parties based on ethnic origin, religion, or gender. A 2002 law raised from 3,000 to 50,000 the number of members that a party must have in its ranks in order to register with the Ministry of Justice, divided up proportionally by regions with no fewer than 700 members in each of the fourteen regions and two major cities.

Primaries is an intra-party vote where one party candidate is elected. It is held between supporters of a political party. It is used in the USA and resembles a political show, which thereby activates the growth of interest in a political party and its candidates.

Kazakhstan’s political party landscape is currently dominated by the ruling Nur-Otan party, which dominates parliament and the public debate. However, numerous other political parties exist. The present-day political parties in Kazakhstan can be divided into three categories i.e. Pro-presidential, “Soft” Opposition, and “Hard” Opposition. The current Pro-presidential political parties are Rukhaniyat and the Party of Patriots. The recently reconstituted party Adilet, Ak-Zhol, Auyl, the Communist Party, and the Communist People’s Party are soft opposition orientation. The All-National Social Democratic Party, Azat (formerly Naghyz Ak-Zhol) and the unregistered political movement Alga have hard opposition labels.

The Republic of Kazakhstan is sitting at the “apex” of true democracy in the central Asian region. Democracy stands for social protection and wellbeing of the general masses and Kazakhstan has been rated first in numerous published reports of the IMF, World Economic Forums, World Banks and Asian Development Bank in terms of poverty reduction, nourishing of human capital, provision of basic necessities of life etc. Democracy upholds economic facilitations and Kazakhstan has been rated among the top world countries for food supplies, employments and social networking.

The modern democracy is the champion of human rights and Kazakhstan enjoys great repute of humanitarian assistance and service of humanity at large. Its national security doctrine has never been compromised on this particular issue. Humans are superiors and protected under the centuries old traditions of Kazakhstan already enshrined into its prevailing political system.

Modern democracy depends upon liberalization process and fortunately, Kazakhstan has been in the mainstream of economic liberalization, privatization, immense socio-economic development, gradual but permanent politicization and democratization process, initiation of effective judicial reforms, institutionalization of corruption free practices, good governance and last but not least start of e-government to establish a creditable contact with general people to remove their worries and  genuine concerns in the country.

Elections, political system and democracy are the modern “trinity” of human survival, protection of basic human rights, freedom of expression, socio-economic prosperity, and qualitative life and last but not least, people’s prosperity and the Republic of Kazakhstan is the real hub of socio-economic prosperity, human progression and productivity. It is the easiest and smoothest way for power-sharing and gross-root participation in any modern democracy.

To conclude the pragmatic constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, its responsible but versatile political parties, modern & vibrant but accountable media, diversified and dynamic society and its various actors and transparent organs of the state including the central election commission are the real guarantors of the free, fair and transparent parliament elections 2021.

Competitive, alternative, interactive, regular and meaningful elections guarantee socio-economic stability and sustainability and political mellowness wherein people are the real kingmakers in a political race to win support for gaining majority in the elections. Being prominent regional expert of Kazakhstan & CIS I owe that the Republic of Kazakhstan is the real cradle of democracy and upcoming parliament election 2021 would a giant leap towards greater community development and achieving long awaited dreams of sustained spells of socio-economic prosperity and political manifestation.