Kazakhstan: New law on elections aims to engage Kazakh citizens in political institution, say experts

·2-min read
Kazakh flag
Kazakh flag

Nur-Sultan [Kazakhstan], May 26 (ANI): A new law on elections signed by Kazakh President Kassym Jomart Tokayev will serve as a new step to developing a civil political culture in Kazakhstan, said the experts.

On May 25, Tokayev signed into law the amendments to the elections rule that will enable reducing the threshold for parties' to win parliament seats from 7 per cent to 5 per cent.

The threshold for political parties to gain seats in Majilis (lower house of parliament) was reduced from 7 per cent to 5 per cent of the number of voters who took part in the vote.

The amendments also introduce the "against all" option in the ballot papers of all levels.

The President signed the law after it was ratified by both Majilis (the lower chamber of Kazakh Parliament) and the Senate earlier this month.

Assistant to the Kazakh President Erlan Karin wrote that the ratification of the new law testifies to the effectiveness of the socio-political dialogue, the Astana Times reported.

Karin explained that the amendments were open for discussions with the participation of experts, civil activists and political parties. Discussions were also held at the National Council of Public Trust.

In addition, changes introduce direct elections of heads of administrations (akims) of cities, villages, towns and rural districts. Candidates are now allowed to self-nominate or become a nominee of a political party. Previously heads of administrations were elected through an indirect vote by electors - deputies of local representative bodies.

Karin noted that the law on elections is a part of the implementation of the key initiatives proposed by President Tokayev following the last Majilis elections held in January to develop a multi-party system and political competition and to increase civic engagement.

Ten laws have already been adopted. Many top political pundits have already weighed in with their commentary.

Arman Toktushakov, an expert of the Institute of World Economics and Politics (IWEP), honed in on the lowering of the political threshold, observing that it will increase political competition during Parliamentary elections and capture a wider spectrum of political opinions come general election time.

Senior Researcher of the Department of Social and Political Studies at the Kazakh Institute for Strategic Studies (KazISS) Zhanar Sankhaeva said that the new proposed amendments would continue the reform of the local self-government system in Kazakhstan.

"When it comes to international practices, the system of self-government includes a number of elements, including the election of leaders of rural administration, the functioning of the rural council or the participation of people in assemblies, the formation of an independent budget, the expansion of its revenue and a change in the nature of relations between local and higher authorities," he said.

"Thus, the new system for electing akims in Kazakhstan is primarily aimed at shaping sustainable development of rural areas by involving citizens in decision-making processes," he added. (ANI)