Dr Pravesh Kumar Gupta
On November 20, 2022, Kazakhstan held an early presidential election. These snap elections were held in response to recent reforms and constitutional amendments enacted by the Tokayev government following the January protests. The most significant amendments to the Kazakh constitution regarding presidential elections is that a president will only be elected for a single term of seven years. This amendment was made to eliminate the potential for monopolization of power and to increase the openness and democracy of the electoral process. Power sharing between the president and other political institutions is another important development of Tokayev’s policies.
In Kazakhstan, there are 11,950,485 eligible voters and 10,101 polling centres across various regions have been set up to complete the election process smoothly. Around 68 centers were established abroad across 53 nations, including for those where citizens are traveling or residing. The race for the top leadership position in Kazakhstan is between six people. It includes incumbent President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who was nominated by the People’s Coalition, Karakat Abden, who was nominated by the National Alliance of Professional Social Workers, Meiram Kazhyken, who was nominated by the Amanat Commonwealth of Trade Unions, Nurlan Auesbayev, who is running from the National Social Democratic Party and Saltanat Tursynbekova, a candidate of the Qazaq Analary – Dasturge Zhol (Kazakh mothers are a path to traditions) public association, and Aul Party candidate Zhiguli Dairabayev.
Despite the course that President Tokayev chose for a new Kazakhstan with a responsible and attentive government, this election will reflect whether or not the population of Kazakhstan is prepared for substantial changes. However, the referendum in June of this year demonstrated that the Kazakh administration is moving in the right path, and the election results will support President Tokayev even more.
Communications with the local population in both rural and urban areas of Kazakhstan revealed that voters were enthusiastic about this election, with the majority expressing a willingness to vote for Tokayev. Based on interactions at polling stations and meetings with presidential candidates and their representatives, it is possible to conclude that the opposition is now playing a significant role in Kazakh politics, which was previously not the case. Conversations with Kazakhs have been extremely positive, and they all support Tokayev for President. They also stated that they were not forced or pressured to vote in favor of anyone during the elections. Furthermore, thousands of national and international observers expressed their support for free and fair elections.
According to the exit poll results announced on November 20 night, President Tokayev was expected to obtain 82 percent of the vote and would manage to win with a majority. Similarly, according to preliminary results announced by Kazakhstan’s Chief of Central Election Commissions on November 22, President Tokayev is leading with 81.31 percent of the vote. Karakat Abden received 2.6 percent of the vote, Nurlan Auesbayev 2.22 percent, Zhiguli Dairabayev 3.42 percent, Meiram Kazhyken 2.53 percent, and Saltanat Tursynbekova 2.12 percent. The preliminary results confirm President Tokayev’s landslide victory, indicating that the Kazakh people have placed their trust in him. The key question is whether he will be able to fulfill his pledges to the public, as he previously did by holding a referendum on reforms, granting amnesty to the January protestors and establishing prosecutor courts, among other things. President Tokayev’s experience as a diplomat and a visionary leader with great potential assists him in overcoming obstacles and bringing stability to the country. Now that he appears to be winning with a majority, Kazakhstan will benefit from a stable political regime that promotes development and growth.
The author is Senior Research Associate, Vivekananda International Foundation.
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