Political development of Kazakhstan: Results and prospects

Kazakhstan has been following its own path of social development that differed a lot from its Central Asian neighbors: it did not opt for total democratization as Kyrgyzstan did (viewed at a certain time as the region’s most democratic coun-try) and was not tempted by the autocratic trends typical of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan where, back in 1992, the president became the central figure with the parliament and the judicial system pushed aside. Kazakhstan took time to build up its political system, where the president invariably remained the main figure. The First President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev played a huge role in the political processes unfolding in the country and its development as a whole. His well-balanced foreign policy helped avoid the shocks of economic reforms and political upheavals inside and outside the country and establish good relationships with its Central Asian neighbors as well as with Russia, the U.S., and China. For a long time the First President was consistently consolidating the executive power vertical in order to concentrate it in the hands of the president and stabilize the social and economic situation by keeping the multifaceted influence of regional elites in check. On the other hand, consolidation of presidential power caused certain political problems, which negatively affected the country’s development, namely, lack of political elite rotation and complete domination of the president in the country where the parliament had no independent role to play. The political system, therefore, was adjusted to the interests of Nazarbayev and his closest circle, which became especially clear when he decided that time had come to start looking for ways and means to preserve political stability and remain in control. It was vitally important to continue his well-balanced foreign policy, to prevent cardinal changes in the balance of power inside the country and ensure the continuity of power. On the other hand, changes at the country’s highest post could no longer be postponed, which explains why in recent years the First President of Kazakhstan has been working hard to resolve the problem. In 2019, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev won the off-year presidential elections to become the second president of Kazakhstan. The process attracted a lot of attention for the simple reason that the head of state is the key figure in the country’s political system. The fact that Nursultan Nazarbayev stayed away from the elections for the first time in the country’s history and suggested To-kayev as a presidential candidate stirred even more interest. This election summed up the presidency of Nazarbayev, who remained the key figure on the republic’s political arena. Tokayev’s advent to power opened a new stage for the country’s political development, the results of which are hardly predictable. © 2019, CA and C Press AB. All rights reserved.

CA and CC Press AB
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  • 1 Department of Political Science and Political Philosophy, Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, Sergey Witte University of Moscow, Moscow, Russian Federation
  • 2 Sergey Witte University of Moscow, Moscow, Russian Federation
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Kazakhstan; Nazarbayev; Political process; Political system; Power; Tokayev
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