Nursultan Nazarbayev’s yesterday’s decision to dismiss the Government took everyone by surprise. Of course, the talks of Bakytzhan Sagintayev’s coming dismissal due to the Government’s obvious failure to carry out the Presidential orders had been going on for a long time. However, there was nothing to indicate that the reprisal would happen so soon.
All the more so since, at the extended Governmental session of January 30, 2019, the President, despite his ranting and raving against the former, eventually, showed mercy.
As a result, the issue of why Nursultan Nazarbayev had suddenly dismissed the Government and who will now take charge of the new Cabinet has immediately become the main topic of discussion in the Kazakh information space. In a nutshell, the opinions of the numerous commentators can be reduced to the following.
- it is a part of the preparations for the power transit in the country from the “Leader of the Nation” to his successor;
- it is the President’s desire to renew and strengthen the Government;
- it is the dismissal of the Cabinet that was clearly unable to carry out the Presidential orders on reforming the economy and increasing the level of life of the citizens;
- it is the preparation for the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections;
- it is an attempt to shift the protest moods from Nazarbayev and Akorda to the Government;
- it is an attempt to turn the Government into a “scapegoat” responsible for all the mistakes and failures of the authorities.
We at kz.expert believe that the decision to dismiss Bakytzhan Sagintayev’s Cabinet, as it usually is in such cases, has numerous reasons. And there is no practical point in determining which ones are most important. Let us simply register, once again, that, in the context of the authoritarian political system and the existence of the super-presidential vertical, the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan is but a subordinate governing body akin to the Presidential Administration, Security Council and the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Even though there is no point in determining individual reasons for the President’s decision, however, it is still worth understanding why this happened exactly on February 21 and not on, say, March 6, 2019. Now, ex post facto, we can suggest the following chain of events.
On October 5, 2018, ahead of schedule, Nursultan Nazarbayev made his public address with the pretentious tittle “The Growth of the Citizens’ Welfare: Increasing the Earnings and the Quality of Life” in which he presented Akorda’s new policy. He knew that the domestic political temperature was rising, the protest moods in the society were growing and, therefore, the time had come to do something in order to preserve the internal political stability.
Akorda’s new public policy demanded appointing a new government but Nursultan Nazarbayev had decided not to rush things since he was planning to hold the early presidential elections and be reelected as President which would automatically mean the renewal of the Government.
However, the information leakage and the new burst of the discussion on the power transit in the country (both extremely unpleasant for Nursultan Nazarbayev personally since they remind him of his mortality) had made the President abandon the idea of the early presidential elections. Under these circumstances, it was senseless to back-pedal the change of the Government; and so, he dismissed it.
As for the chosen date, February 21, 2019, we believe it was chosen spontaneously but not randomly. On February 20, 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin made an address to the Federal Assembly and the best part of his speech did not simply coincide with Nursultan Nazarbayev’s October 5 Presidential Address but turned out to be much flashier and more large-scale.
If we are to compare the economic efficiency of the promises made by the Kremlin to the Russian citizens with what had already been promised by Nazarbayev to the Kazakh citizens, we believe the difference between the benefits promised to the Russians and the benefits promised to the Kazakhs would look simply disastrous for the Kazakh President. Therefore, by the looks of it, he was simply trying to divert the public attention from the fact that Vladimir Putin’s promises exceeded his own ones at least three times.