Four Simple Steps Towards Consolidation

In the article Why There Will Be No Democracy Today, we conclude that the hopes for the systemic reforms in the country are futile due to the fears of the ruling elite that, as a result of the loss of power, it is risking to lose its fortunes as well.

While we do stand by our assessment, we, nonetheless, consider it necessary to underscore that not everything is as hopeless and sad as it seems at a casual glance. Certain things can be attempted by the Kazakh authorities with rather high chances for success. And these things may turn out to be quite beneficial for the ruling elite as well as for the entire population of the country.

The thing is that, today, Kazakhstan needs an urgent and total mobilization of the population and the economy in order to conduct the modernization — political, economic, social and technological — at an accelerated pace. However, all this is happening in the environment when no one including state officials and perhaps even Nursultan Nazarbayev and Kasym-Zhomart Tokayevs themselves trusts the state and the authorities.

In order to earn at least some kind of trust, the authorities must take concrete steps. But what kind of steps are we talking about?

We believe Akorda’s real possibilities to earn the trust of the majority of the Kazakh citizens are close to zero. If only because most of the people display an extremely consumerist attitude and are completely unprepared to make any sacrifices for the sake of some national values.

The same kind of sentiment dominates the ruling elite as well albeit, contrary to the simple folks, the ruling elite is, first, much smaller in numbers, second, directly interested in being represented in the corridors of power in order to promote and defend its interests, third, has those exact resources for the mobilization that the country needs today.

Therefore, Akorda, under the leadership of Kazakhstan’s second President, and «The Library», under the wing of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, could easily carry out several tactical events that, on one hand, would not result in any shocks in the society, on the other hand, could solve the task of stirring up the ruling elite, in particular: 

  • reduce the maximum limit of political parties’ headcount exponentially, say, to four thousand people,
  • simplify the procedure of creating and registering a party,
  • present the parties with the opportunity to participate in the fight for power,
  • conduct a partial decentralization of the state mechanism by giving more authorities to the regions.

We believe that these albeit limited but at the same time still revolutionary for Kazakhstan measures have rather good chances for success. If only because the country has raised the second generation of domestic entrepreneurs between the ages of 30-50 that has already achieved certain successes in business.

As we can observe, these people feel more and more cramped in the country and the economy. Moreover, we allow for the possibility that it is they who will be able (say in five years or later) to repeat the case of the first Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan and demand the cardinal reforms in the country from Akorda. Not because they are against the current authorities. But because they need a different environment for a successful development of their business — the real rule of law, the impartiality of the authorities, the public mechanisms that allow to present, defend and promote their interests.

We believe it is these people (whose number, by our estimates, constitute several thousands) that will receive most benefits from the partial «perestroika» of the country. Of course, it will not go down without high-profile scandals, tough «shootouts», resonant confrontations, large-scale deceits but the result may turn out to be much more beneficial for the authorities than their current policy of razing to the ground everything that is still moving.

Obviously, the stirring up of the political life via the appearance of new parties or the «revitalization» of the existing ones will lead to the weakening of the authoritarian political system and the «super-presidential» vertical. However, the latter will be compensated for by the fact that the ruling elite and its individual elements:

  • will receive a political instrument for promoting and defending their interests,
  • the process of the approval of these interests, of finding a compromise and decisions will be taken out of the shadows and become public,
  • the majority (not the minority as the case is now) of the potential internal political players will participate in the development of domestic policy.

In other words, according to our forecast, the state as such will become even more stable due to the improving of the inter-elite dialogue and the moving of this dialogue to the parliamentary and regional representative bodies venue.

As for the main part of the population, it is, of course, will not receive the same kind of benefits as the ruling elite will. However, there will be an opportunity to influence political parties during election campaigns. And even though, at first, this opportunity will be minimal, the mere fact of these doors opening for the citizens will signify the beginning of moving towards real democracy.

Apart from that, the problem of the growing protest sentiment will be resolving — with the appearance of a channel for its release and with a clearly positive result for the country.

On the other hand, even if, tomorrow, Akorda and «The Library» reach an agreement and the limited political reforms described above will be launched the day after, it is unlikely that the internal political process will pick up speed immediately. However, the very fact that not only Nur Otan, the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan and Ak Zhola but, say, the renewed Nationwide Social Democratic Party and Aul as well as a couple of «newcomers» will participate in the next parliamentary elections may seriously change the citizens’ perception of the politics and their own role in it.

Without it, there can be no serious changes in the country even if Nursultan Nazarbayev and Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev give perfectly correct, valuable, intelligent and enforceable orders on a daily basis and the «super-presidential» power vertical imitates their fulfilment.


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