March 19, 2019, marked a new era in the history of independent Kazakhstan. At 7 pm, on national TV channels, the first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev announced his resignation. Voicing the decision of resignation, Nazarbayev said that he remains head of the Security Council of Kazakhstan, member of the Сonstitutional Council of Kazakhstan, Chairman of the Nur-Otan party and the Assembly of people of Kazakhstan, and also received the status of Elbasy — the Leader of the nation. According to the continuity of power in the country, he said, in case of early termination of the powers of the current President, his powers pass to the Chairman of the Senate before the end of the election term. The next day, the Speaker of the Senate Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took the oath as President. Dariga Nazarbayeva was elected the new Chairman of the Senate.
The first half of 2016 was rich in various political events that indicate some interesting trends, both in social life, and within the political elite.
What was the reason for early elections?
The mystery of the early presidential elections in Kazakhstan (see “ Elections. Afterwards ” Petroleum, issue #2-2015) has been solved. After April 29, the day of the elections, the country’s economic situation began to deteriorate even more rapidly. Obviously, at the beginning of the year the government seriously worried that by the winter of 2015-2016, the financial and economic situation in the country could become extremely dire, driving the public’s dissatisfaction and threatening to disrupt the elections. Therefore, the early elections were mostly about economics.
In the first half of the year 2014, the political situation in Kazakhstan has not undergone major changes. The internal balance of elite powers virtually remained the same and consists of two main groups: the family of the President and members of the "old guard". More interesting trend is the decline in activity of the traditional opposition in Kazakhstan, including some politicians, associated with the temporary departure from the political scene.
At the end of August 2013, the rating agency Standard & Poors published its assessment on the current financial and economic situation of Kazakhstan. However the most interesting part of this presentation was not about the economy, but more about the politics. The analysts of the Agency said "...the uncertainty is associated with the high centralization of the process of development and implementation of the political decisions and theconfusions regarding the transfer of presidential decision making power is depicting a high political risk.
Daniyar Ashimbayev, the well-known Kazakhstani political scientist, editor-in-chief of Kazakhstan Biographic Encyclopaedia, in an exclusive interview to Petroleum makes comments on the recent structural and staff transfers in Kazakhstan
- Daniyar, what is the reason, in your opinion, for the present transfers in the system of executive power and akims corps? When the situation, as they say, has ripened?
Not so long ago the Moody’s International Rating Agency has submitted the next report on the risks for Kazakhstan’s rating. The list of such risks, among others, included: significant dependence of the country’s economy on the prices for energy carriers and the level of unserviced credits. To the factors positive for rating the Moody’s analysts referred good indices of growth in the republic’s GDP, the growth in the volume of direct foreign investments and the export of hydrocarbons, and also budgetary proficit and a rather low level of public debt in regard to GDP.
The extraordinary elections to the Parliament’s lower chamber – the Majilis – were held in Kazakhstan. One of the main mistakes of many experts estimating their course and results is that they have too focused on the pre-election race’s participants.
Because of its vast energy resources and geographical location, at the crossroads of east and west, the Caspian region has played and will continue to play an important role in global energy markets. The U.S. policy on Eurasian energy has three basic goals.
In December of this year Kazakhstan will celebrate its 20th anniversary of independence. What society we have built and what trends will define the country’s medium-term political prospect?
If to proceed from the fact that many postSoviet countries in their development usually pass three stages: institutional, mobilization and stabilization, Kazakhstan is just at the third stage.
It can be said that after adoption of the law «On the Leader of Nation» in 2010 and preschedule presidential elections in April of this year, actually an end was put to the formation of superpresidential system.
After adoption of the law «On the leader of the nation» in the last year, a natural question has arisen in the Kazakhstan’s political elite on expediency of participation of the president, already in a new status, in the next presidential elections. The long-term legitimate mandate of “the leader of the nation” has obviously come into contradiction with the necessity to get the next formal mandate of trust during the election campaign.