BY: Zaman Bajwa
The democratic initiative to build a “new Kazakhstan” is a reflection of the voice of 77 percent of Kazakhstan’s population which advocated for the constitutional amendments by voting in a referendum taking place in June 2022. The 77 percent populace of Kazakhstan exhibited the “will” of the majority as well as endorsed Abraham Lincoln saying,
“Democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people”,
a pertinent breakthrough in democratic development and the portrayal of allegiance of the people to the principles of the democratic state. This is the major milestone covered by the Republic of Kazakhstan in the post-Soviet era, to bring about reforms in the social, political, and, economic sectors.
What is making the November 2022 elections distinctive from the previous ones since its independence dated 1991, is that this seventh presidential election 2022 is scheduled early on the 20th of November this year on the proposal of the president of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in the light of changing geopolitical situation due to Ukraine-Russian war as well as because of the international obstacles such as January uprising, the massive protest by the people in respond to escalated oil and gas prices. This internal chaos was multiplied with start of Ukraine war in February, impacting the country’s economy. This decision taken by the President is based upon the rationale to demonstrate the “will of the people” to the rebel institutes as well as to strengthen the foundations of the country in the face of war in the neighboring region.
The president in his state address on September 1, 2022, stressed the need for an hour, to rebuild Kazakhstan on the very foundation of the ratification of the trust of its citizens. The constitutional amendment is made to permute the two five-year presidential terms into only one term of seven years. In addition to it, the right to conduct re-election is eliminated during the term. This constitutional change will not only vitalize the democratic model of the country but also restrict the presidential tenure will be a way forward to focus on the national development of the country. In this way, the development programs can easily be completed as compared to the 2-year term which restricts the project’s completion in case of re-election or change of president. Thus, the citizens will be empowering development projects instead of the head of state.
One of the most suitable examples of “democracy is at play” is the contemporary political dynamics of Kazakhstan. First, at the start of the year 2022, the Republic of Kazakhstan made the internal uprising a failure which was a reaction of general public in face of rising prices of oil and gas, President Tokayev gathered the voice of the people of Kazakhstan to let every institute hear what the will of the citizens is. These pre-scheduled upcoming elections of Kazakhstan will not only exhibit the choice of Kazakhstan but also will portray whether president Tokayev and the people of Kazakhstan are under the same flag of “New Kazakhstan” or not.
What makes this election 2022 unique in the history of Kazakhstan is the diverse background of the political agenda of the running candidates in this election. Thus, this election presents the citizens with electorate options on a large scale. The list of candidates which are approved by the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Kazakhstan to run their election campaigns till November 18 includes officeholder president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev from the People’s Coalition, Karakat Abden a prominent figure among the public as well as a spokesperson of the National Commission for Women Affairs, Meiram Kazhyken who is the representative of the Astana School of Economics, Nurlan Auesbayev belonging to National Social Democratic Party, Saltanat Tursynbekova who is a human rights activist and Zhiguli Dairabayev from the Auyl party. The registration of two female candidates for the run of presidential elections is a step forward to set a seal to gender equality in the republic and uphold their notion of equal rights for women.
Elections 2022 is intended to be the most open and fair elections following the law. To ensure this, the president has invited a journalist from all around the world as well the partaking of municipal and international observers is also welcome. The media coverage by foreign journalists will not only verify the honesty and transparency of elections but also it will communicate the democratic development to the international arena.
This will result in a domino impact in the region. Hence, the election of 2022 is presupposed to be a leap of faith toward democracy. With regard to the significance of the geopolitical location of Kazakhstan situated between two main continents Asia and Europe, this vote for a new Kazakhstan will amplify its geo-strategic location in expediting trade and a gateway to serve as a democratic state to bring about a resolution to Ukraine conflict. Kazakhstan is not far behind in tackling the contemporary non-traditional crisis like climate change.
The government of Kazakhstan is vigorously saturating to curtail global warming. This is part of the national interest of the republic. Hence, the newly elected president of the 2022 elections after inauguration will continue to walk in the same footsteps.
Analyzing the political structure of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the presidential form of government is based upon the notion of a free election. In this state, power is given to people, the citizens of Kazakhstan to elect their leaders. The free election confines all the state power to the majority of the populace. Thus, this makes the citizens of the state the true sovereigns of the country.
The pathway toward the objective of a new Kazakhstan build solely on democratic principles is the fruit of the hard work of the people of Kazakhstan toward prosperity and development. They were the people of Kazakhstan that purified Kazakhstan from the Soviet legacy and burdens and modernized it into a well-developed state of the 21st century.
This new step was taken by the president to bring into play the national vote, the voice of Kazakhstan as a democratic indemnity to amplify the progress of the republic.
Writer is Islamabad based journalist and Executive director of Think Tank (YFK). Working on conflict resolution. He tweets @zamanbajwaa