Power Transition with Dariga Nazarbayeva

Continuing to reflect on a possible scenario of the power transition in Kazakhstan, we have decided to consider the current balance of power in Nursultan Nazarbayev’s closest circle. If one of them is to become the new leader of the nation, it will be the president’s daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva.

 Note that, in our latest article (Three Conditions of Power Transit in Kazakhstan), we determined the three key factors that, by our estimate, will invariably influence the choice and the nomination of the next Kazakhstan leader by the ruling elite.

First, the coming transition will not be possible without complying with the judicial procedures stipulated in the Constitution. At the same time, nominating certain figures for the highest state positions may turn out to be quick and unexpected.

 Second, without the support of the majority of the elite clans, Nazarbayev’s successor will not be able to maintain control over the state vertical and prevent the collapse of the state mechanism.

 Third, when the critical moment arrives, the fear of the domestic political destabilization and rise of the protest moods in the streets after Nazarbayev’s exit will force most of those who manage the country and its economy to stay close to the influential people whom they trust more (or whom they fear less).

We believe it is futile to try and predict the exact way the transition is going to happen if for no other reason than because people are mortal (in the physical and the political sense), the intra-elite war in the country continues with the same force (yet, its outcome is still unclear), and some external players and circumstances may suddenly interfere and reveal some crucial compromising documents. One way or another, the power balance is Akorda changes every day.

However, we believe it is reasonable to consider a possible transition scenario in respect to the current balance of power in Nazarbayev’s closest circle in order to show that the Kazakhstan citizens will be excluded from participating in this political process while the crucial for the country issue will be solved by a very limited number of people.

So, based on our sources, Akorda today has formed an unofficial union consisting of the president’s eldest daughter and a Senate deputy Dariga Nazarbayeva, Head of Nazarbayev Administration Adilbek Dzhaksybekov, and Chief of the National Security Committee Karim Masimov. (Unfortunately, neither we nor anyone else has been able to verify this inside information, therefore, will assume this “troika” exists).

So, if the “H-hour” comes in the nearest time (in half a year), in other words, before Nursultan Nazarbayev cardinally renews the top of the state apparatus, the Cabinet, and the local authorities, this is how the situation is going to unfold.

  • As soon as it becomes obvious that Nazarbayev is no longer capable of performing the presidential duties, his closest circle of people will discuss the “troika”’s challenges, the plan of action and interaction, the conditions of the collaboration and the distribution of the political dividends. Prior to this moment, none of the aforementioned persons will risk discussing this since it may be regarded as a plot against Nazarbayev.
  • Head of Nazarbayev Administration Adilbek Dzhaksybekov will initiate the resignation of Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev who is currently serving as Head of the Senate. There is certain risk that the latter will try to resist, however, considering his political light weight and the abundance of the kompromat against him, the resistance will not be strong. Dariga Nazarbayeva will be nominated Head of the Senate. The nomination will be approved due to the following reasons: 1) Nazarbayev Administration maintains a much stricter control over the Senate than over the Mazhilis (the Lower House of the Kazakhstan Parliament), 2) the Senate can have deputies appointed by the president, 3) the senators are dependent on the local governors. The nomination process will take half a day (a day at the most).
  • After Dariga Nazarbayeva become Head of the Senate, Akorda will announce the poor state of Nursultan Nazarbayev’s health or his passing. Then, they activate the mechanism of the power transition to Nazarbayev’s successor stipulated in the Constitution.
  • After the official procedure of the power transition will have been completed, the new president will take the first step to secure her position. Most likely, Dariga Nazarbayeval will declare she would continue her father’s domestic and foreign political practices in full. Simultaneously, the majority of the ruling elite starts, officially and unofficially, declares their loyalty to the new president. The unwilling minority starts getting ready to emigrate.
  • During this period, one should expect the rise of the protest activities, unauthorized meetings, and other public actions. However, since the enforcement element of the presidential vertical will be mobilized beforehand, the protest activities are not to have significant consequences. Although outbursts of violence not only on the part of the civilians but also on the part of the enforcers are not out of the question.
  • By our estimate, Dariga Nazarbayeva will start serious personnel reshuffles not earlier than half a year after her accession to power. She will need this time not so much to familiarize herself with the new circumstances as to make certain the domestic political stability is preserved.
  • Starting from this moment, the new president will find herself under a tremendous pressure from her circle that will demand compensation for helping her through the change. Dariga Nazarbayeva will not be able to withstand it since this process will be, for the most part, independent of her happening at the lower levels of the state vertical. And as soon as it affects the interests of enough elite clans (groups), a quick formation of the opposition among the elite will start in the country.

It is exactly during this period that the breakup of the “troika” will most likely begin.

Prior to this moment, Adilbek Dzhaksybekov and Karim Masimov would simply have to be loyal to Dariga Nazarbayeva because of the three reasons:

  • first, they, personally, in our opinion, will not risk coveting the presidential position while desiring to retain their power;
  • second, sabotaging the transition will lead to their exile with all its negative aftermath;
  • third, they will be forced to stay loyal because of the necessity to preserve the political stability in the country.

Therefore, since the Kazakhstan state today is capable of suppressing any action that can be organized by the potential “protestants”, the number of whom, by our estimates, fluctuates between 50 and 100 thousand (see our article “The Electorate of Change), the transition in Kazakhstan will most likely happen without serious complications.

One can also predict that Dariga Nazarbayeva’s nomination will be supported by the key externals players as well – Russia, China, US, and Europe. Simply because none of them needs disorder and confusion in Kazakhstan.

The main risks, in our opinion, will start revealing themselves after the first year of Dariga Nazarbayeva’s rule when the population realizes that the social-economic problems are not being solved, the income level is not rising while the ruling elite is feeling discomfort under the pressure of the new dominating clan that, in accordance with the usual Kazakhstan practice, is monetizing the victory of their leader to their advantage. And there will be no one to restrain them.

Read also:  On the List of Nazarbayev’s Successors, 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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