Who Guarantees the Referendum Voting Turnout?

On May 30, 2022, the Central Communications Service under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan released the results of the latest online survey on the nationwide referendum aimed to make the “Tokayev” amendments to the Kazakh Constitution. In our opinion, the results of the survey in question are more than dubious.  

Here is the survey (text in bold by KZ.expert).

 “The research has shown the growth of support for the President’s activities and the realization of the importance of the referendum for the country as the day of the nationwide voting approaches.

In particular, according to the results of the sociological survey, 83.92% of the Kazakhs support the President’s initiative to hold the referendum on making the amendments to the Constitution. This surpasses the results of the latest survey we conducted in May, 2022, by 12%.

86.86% of the respondents are aware that the voting will take place on June 5, 2022. The level of the people’s awareness has grown by 8%. 76.51% of the Kazakhs intend to participate in the voting. As the survey has demonstrated, 79.10% of the Kazakhs will support the proposed package of the constitutional changes. The scale of support for the President’s political course is even higher – 80.04% are stand in full solidarity with the reforms of President K.K. Tokayev.  

1200 Kazakhs aged 18 and above from all the 17 regions of the country have participated in the survey”.

We do not trust the results of this particular survey and the surveys of this kind in general. And not because we doubt the professional skills of the experts that have conducted it but because they are working for a structure that, for Akorda and Tokayev, serves as one of the main tools for PR-promoting and misinforming the public.

However, such publications do contain important information. The thing is that, willingly or not, their authors go by the figures privately announced in the circles involved in organizing such big political events as the nationwide referendum.

For this reason, we will allow ourselves to forecast the results of the June 5 voting as 80% in favor of the proposed changes (give or take 2%).

However, regarding those who will come to the voting stations and not damage the ballots or take them home, the situation is much less clear. In any case, they will constitute more than 51% of the registered voters. And, given that Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and his team need to not simply save their political face but impress the external observers, it is likely to surpass 60%. The question is - by how much?

It looks like it is for this reason that the Kazakh authorities are now implementing a standard yet unofficial voting campaign in which Akorda is using the administrative baton as its main argument. We will show how it works by using the example of an economic sector that formally lies far from the political sphere – the banking sector.

According to our insiders, on May 27, 2022, the Kazakh Agency for Regulation and Development of Financial Market gathered the representatives of all Kazakhstan’s banks in Almaty. They were received by no other than Madina Abylkasymova herself. The deputy akim of Almaty also participated in the meeting. 

Now then, Ms. Abylkasymova has requested the banks to compile a list of their employees that are to take part in the June 5 voting and guarantee their appearance at the voting stations. She did not request the “yes” vote but, obviously, it was implied. She has, however, requested that the banks representatives conduct sessions among the employees for the purpose of explaining the importance of the referendum and why it is mandatory to take part in it.

We have been observing Kazakhstan’s voting events for a long time but even we have been astounded by this kind of behavior on the level of the country’s main financial regulator. After all, such important officials as Ms. Abylkasymova didn’t used to deign to such meetings and requests leaving their deputies or the heads of the regional branches to deal with these matters.

We believe this sad fact may be indicative of two things. Either the Kazakh ministers of the heads of the governmental agencies have grown as small as it can get or Akorda has given the strict order to go to great lengths and make sure that the people herd into the referendum on making the amendments to the Constitution of Kazakhstan.


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