Why Is the Transition with Dariga Feasible?

In our article “Power Transition with Dariga Nazarbayeva” we describe a possible scenario of the power transition in Kazakhstan from President Nursultan Nazarbayev to his eldest daughter Dariga if the transition takes place in the nearest future (in a quarter or half a year). We, however, would like to underscore that this particular scenario can only be feasible if certain conditions are met.

By our estimate, President’s eldest daughter will become the next leader of the Kazakhstan state only in the case if Head of Nazarbayev Administration Adilbek Dzhaksybekov and NSC Chief Karim Masimov form a secret union with her and, when the H-hour comes, will support her political takeoff.

Here is the reasoning behind our assumption.

The point is that, according to the unofficial ranking chart, the position of the Head of the Senate of the Kazakhstan Parliament is placed below that of the Prime-Minister, the Head of Presidential Administration, and the Speaker of the Mazhilis (Lower House of Parliament). However, in accordance with the Constitution of Kazakhstan, the Head of the Senate is the first on the list of those to assume the presidential power in the case the president dies or is unable to perform his duties. Today, this position is occupied by Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev.

We believe, with all his carefully concealed ambitiousness, Tokayev is a political light-weight which is the main reason Nazarbayev has appointed him the Head of the Senate. In the case of a severe head-on collision, he is unlikely to stand up against the key figures from Nazarbayev’s circle.

Therefore, if Head of Presidential Administration Adilbek Dzhaksybekov demands Tokayev’s resignation, the latter will comply with this demand. But, if he tries to resist, Nazarbayev Administration and the secret service have enough compromising means to make the Senate cast the right vote.

In this scheme, there is one weak link – time. When the H-hour comes, the participants of the transition will have little time to act. In other words, any surprises and eventualities are possible.

For example, that same Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev may delay answering the question as to whether he is ready to take over the presidential chair and, then, suddenly decline the opportunity. Then, Dariga Nazarbayeva may find herself in the situation when, even though she is serving as the Head of the Senate, she has already lost the right to inherit her father’s chair since her predecessor declined the presidential position while the next formal candidate accepted it.

Next in line, after Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev, there is Speaker of the Mazhilis Nurlan Nigmatulin. We have no doubt his political ambitions are high. The problem, however, is that the other Nazarbayev’s allies who are not thrilled with his stamina and administrative abilities (not to mention the habit of abusing his authority) are well aware of the fact.

Most likely, the majority of the Kazakhstan elite will go against Nurlan Nigmatulin becoming the next leader of the country simply because it may be dangerous for the elite itself. However, to make Nigmatulin surrender the supreme power, the elite must employ an enormous force especially if Nigmatulin will be one step away from obtaining it. For this reason, we assume that the triumvirate of Nazarbayev, Dzhaksybekov, and Masimov is unlikely to take the risk.

As for acting Prime-Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev, today, he is regarded as the head of the Cabinet only formally. Nonetheless, still waters run deep, as they say.

With support from the other key players in Akorda, Sagintayev may try to take the house. But, first, Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev and Nurlan Nigmatulin must waive their rights to take over the presidential chair.

Technically speaking, such a scenario is possible. For that to happen, Speaker of the Senate Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev must reject the presidency and Dariga Nazarbayeva must not become the Head of the Senate in time. Then, Speaker Nurlan Nigmatulin must either lose the position of the Head of the Mazhilis or decline the opportunity to take over the presidential chair.

Nonetheless, we regard such a scenario as unlikely since it may create a rather heated situation in Akorda while triggering a serious political uncertainty. We believe the very fear that the resignation of Nursultan Nazarbayev to whom most Kazakhstanis have gotten used to or whom they have accepted as the leader will force the Kazakhstan ruling elite to agree to scenario of Dariga’s taking the power.

However, we would like to underscore once again that our statement is relevant only for today and under the condition that Adilbek Dzhaksybekov and Karim Masimov will support Dariga Nazarbayeva. If not, any unexpected turn of the events is possible.

We can even be talking about the scenario in which Kazym-Zhomart Tokayev, though perhaps not forever but only till the next elections, becomes the state leader in compliance with the Constitution. His political light-weight, the absence of his own team and his own economic interests may turn out to be quite an advantage in the case the key elite groups refuse to compromise. He will be feared less than the others and may become a figure of compromise as Nazarbayev’s successor.

This scenario is not a prediction but an attempt to explain why the Kazakhstanis will most likely be excluded from making this historic for their country decision of who is to become the next leader of the nation. Since it is already evident that a new personnel reshuffle in on its way, it may turn out that, in just several months, other people will become Akorda’s key players.

Read also: Power Transition with Dariga Nazarbayeva,   Three Conditions of Power Transit in Kazakhstan, One More Problem of the Transition, How not to hit a dead end with transition, The Main Problem of The Transition, On the transit of power and importance of discussion, Kazakh media is discussing power transfer, Scenarios of Transition, At the Cusp of Transition. The Power Shift Scenarios.


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