A Puzzler for Spin Masters

On April 9, 2019, new Interim President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev “cast the die” and “crossed the Rubicon”. He announced the early presidential elections that are to take place on June 9, 2019. Now, the main question is who will run for the office and will he himself be among the contenders?

We at kz.expert believe that Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev is to become the main and electable contender at the upcoming elections. Any other development, for instance, nominating Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter Dariga may result in agitation inside the ruling elite and the civil society thus jeopardizing the internal political stability in the country. And this is precisely what Akorda is afraid of today.

If our forecast is correct, then the election campaign in Kazakhstan will be held in the same manner as when Nursultan Nazarbayev was reelected as President. The problem, however, is that Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev looks rather anemic against the First President, politically speaking. So, the Ukrainian and Russian spin masters involved in the campaign will have to try very hard to turn the unassuming official into something eye-catching.

And this is not only because Tokayev, as a professional diplomat and an extremely cautious statesman, has always stayed in the background and within the established boundaries. The thing is he has not achieved anything significant in his line of work. Yes, he has served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the State Secretary, the UN Under-Secretary-General, the Head of the Senate of the Kazakh Parliament. In other words, he did hold high-rank posts, but his work was devoid of passion, it was nothing but pro forma.

As for his performance as the Prime Minister, here, again, apart from his 2002 statement on the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan, Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev pales into insignificance against his colleagues – Akezhan Kazhegeldin, Nurlan Balgimbayev and Imangali Tasmagambetov.

So, the pro-governmental propaganda machine will invariably have to stress the fact that Kasym-Zhomart Tikayev has been, is and will be a loyal associate of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and that it was the latter who had chosen him as his successor. And since, today, it is extremely problematic for Akorda to boast about its successes regarding the country’s socio-economic development and the increase of the level of life, they will stress that it is Nursultan Nazarbayev who has built the new Kazakhstan, and all the good that has happened in the country since 1991 is exclusively his achievement.

This gives little chance for Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev to be accepted by the Kazakh society as the person worthy of being the country’s leader. Nonetheless, this does not mean that say 80-90% of the those participating in the elections will not vote for him. And then he will certainly be elected despite the existing legal innuendos and contradictions.

Thus, by no means do the upcoming presidential campaign and the early elections signify the ending of the power transit in Kazakhstan. They are nothing but one of its steps. The country and the people are to follow the path outlined by Nursultan Nazarbayev for an indefinite duration – until the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan passes away.

Perhaps only then would Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev (given that becomes the President as a result of the elections) take a risk of making some changes in Kazakhstan (and even then, not on his own initiative but under the pressure of the other actors). Simply to hold on to the presidential chair until the next elections and make it into history.


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