On Tokayev’s Chances to Hold On to the Power Wheel

On February 12, 2021, the Nur Otan faction held a meeting in the Mazhilis of the Kazakh Parliament. The issues linked to the implementation of the party’s election campaign were on the meeting’s agenda. Reviewing the meeting, we have noticed certain nuances that enable us to draw certain conclusions.

First, apart from the members of the Nur Otan faction, Prime Minister Askar Mamin and First Deputy Chairman of Nur Otan Bauyrzhan Baybek had also participated in the meeting chaired by Mazhilis Speaker Nurlan Nuigmatulin.

Therefore, the press-releases on the event were published by both — the press-service of the Mazhilis and the press-service of the government. And even though both documents are written in the standard bureaucratic style, comparing them allows us to assume certain things.

For instance, this is how the names of the meeting participants are catalogued in the press-release of the Mazhilis (quoting) — 

«Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin, First Deputy Chairman of the Nur Otan party Bauyrzhan Baybek as well as the members of the government have participated in the meeting conducted in the form of a video-conference». 

At the same time, the press-release of the government catalogues the participants in a different order (quoting) —

«Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin has participated in the meeting of the Nur Otan faction chaired by Head of the Mazhilis of the Kazakh Parliament, Chairman of the faction Nurlan Nigmatulin». 

However, if the fact that, in the governmental press-release, the name of Askar Mamin is mentioned first while Nurlan Nigmatulin comes in second (even though the latter was chairing the meeting and the former was simply reporting at it) can be explained by the usual «can-do» spirit of the officials, then the «disappearance» of Bauyrzhan Baybek sets one wondering.

In our opinion, it may indicate that the head of the Kazakh government does not favour the first deputy of Nur Otan’s leader Nursultan Nazarbayev. And his staff, knowing it, has reflected the boss’ sentiment in the press-release.

Our next observation has to do with both press-releases.

The thing is that the press-releases repeatedly mention the leader of Nur Otan, also known as the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the «Leader of the Nation» while completely forgetting to mention acting head of the state Kossym-Jomart Tokayev. Meanwhile, the ruling party’s election campaign is supposed to be implemented mainly by the government that, by the way, reports directly to the Kazakh President.

This kind of forgetfulness on the part of both press-services does not seem to be random. It probably indicates that Nurlan Nigmatulin and Askar Mamin do not treat Kossym-Jomart Tokayev too kindly.

Moreover, judging by the fact that the press-services can allow themselves to forget about the acting President, they do not favour Akorda as well. Which, in its turn, makes us suppose that Tokayev’s Administration either does not follow what is being written about the President or cannot humble their colleagues. In other words, it seems to have lost its political importance and influence even in comparison to the resent past.

From these two, in our opinion, not very significant observations we would like to draw a far-reaching conclusion: Kossym-Jomart Tokayev is now serving as the head of the state only because Nursultan Nazarbayev needs him as a «seat wormer» who has no aspirations to actually ascend to the throne.

This, in its turn, makes us assume that, as soon as the Elbasy passes away, Tokayev will have zero chance to keep the seat. Simply because, de-facto, the Chairman of the Mashilis and the Prime Minister have much more influence on the «super-presidential» vertical than the official head of the state.

It looks like only one thing may allow Kossym-Jomart Tokayev to hold on to the wheel of power — if he gains support of a powerful political force.

For insurance, the siloviks led by Chief of the NSC Karim Masimov. Or Nursultan Nazarbayev’s family (at least most of its members).

Otherwise, Tokayev will be forced to resign his post due to health reasons or following the realisation that the country needs another, younger and more ambitious leader.


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