Kazakhstan Announces Parliamentary Elections

by Allan Millward

Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Tokayev Source:RFE/RL

Almost a year after deadly anti-government riots engulfed the country, President Tokayev dissolved Kazakhstan’s lower house of parliament, the Majjlis, and called for an election on March 19, 2023. The legislative election was initially slated for 2025 but was pushed up in response to last year’s protests. The parliamentary election was not the only election to be pushed up either. The Presidential election, set for 2024, was moved to November last year. Tokayev won this election with 80 percent of the vote in a race criticized for its lack of competitive candidates.

Despite Tokayev replacing his authoritarian predecessor Nazarbayev in 2019, the latter and his associates still held significant sway within Kazakhstan’s political system. Nazarbayev remained head of the country’s Security Council but was dismissed, along with many of his allies, by Tokayev in response to the January 2022 protests. Since then, Tokayev has asserted that he will reform “all the main institutions of power” and that he wishes to move from a “super-presidential form of government to a presidential republic with a strong parliament.” In line with this pledge, last September, he pushed through constitutional changes that adjusted presidential term limits from two five-year terms to one seven-year term. However, some within Kazakhstan consider the changes and early elections insufficient and point out that several new political parties that attempted to register for the upcoming legislative election were rejected for unclear reasons.

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