We Will See How the Cards Fall

After the relatively quiet summer, the political life in Kazakhstan has resumed its normal course — as usual, the ruling elite is worried about how Nurslutan Nazarbayev will shuffle the deck, the proactive citizens are keen to observe the elites’ internal squabbles while expressing their discontent on social media, as for the rest of the Kazakhstanis, they are simply living their lives or trying to survive depending on their particular situation.

In the meantime, judging by what is happening in the world, Kazakhstan is going to be facing big problems. And not only because of the upcoming power transit. As a developing economy that is highly dependent on the international market and the demand for the natural resources, Kazakhstan is open to all the «winds» that, year after year, are getting stronger and stronger.

Among other things, this means that Akorda’s successes in the development of the national economy, the increasing of the level of life, and the preservation of the domestic political stability now more than ever depend on the factors that are beyond Akorda’s and the President’s reach. Therefore, their attempts to pursue a long-term policy are doomed to fail.

Let’s illustrate our thesis by using the Presidential elections as an example.

According to Article 51 of the Kazakhstan Election Law, the «regular Presidential elections are held once in five years on the first Sunday of December of a given year and cannot coincide with the Parliamentary elections».

At the same time, Article 51-1 stipulates that «the regular Presidential elections that follow the year-off Presidential election are held in five years at the time specified by the current law».

Since the previous Presidential elections in Kazakhstan took place on April 26, 2015, and were year-off, then, by law, the next elections must take place on December 6, 2020.

But this does not mean it will be so. There exists a rather high probability that Nursultan Nazarbayev or perhaps his successor will hold early elections. And not so much for the purpose of ensuring their victory as for preserving the authoritarian governmental regime in the country.

Unfortunately, such is the logic of the domestic political life in the Central Asian countries except for perhaps Kyrgyzstan — the leader must collect no less than 90% of the votes (better yet, 98%).  

The likelihood of such development is now growing higher due to the fact that Akorda’s capabilities to stimulate the economic development via increasing the state investments and participation as well as to support the citizens’ level of life via increasing the budget expenditures have been significantly reduced compared to the past. Recall, that, in 2014-2015, the reserves that the state all together spent only to support the national currency exchange rate (which was necessary to win the early Presidential election) were worth 40 $ bln. 

Obviously, Akorda is no longer able to afford such expenses. All the more so, since, as have pointed out, the external situation has changed, and for the worse. Given this, to try and predict when the next Presidential elections will take place (at the time stipulated by the Constitution or earlier) is absolutely impossible.

Moreover, Nursultan Nazarbayev himself does not know this, either. Of course, the Presidential Administration will work out several options as per usual. Which one will become operational depends not on the designers and not even on the President but on how the events will unfold.

However, one thing is certain. Since the ruling elite and the Kazakh citizens battle the problems separately due to a number of the internal contradictions, Nursultan Nazarbayev we believe will not be able to obtain the kind of support Vladimir Putin has in Russia and Recep Erdogan in Turkey. Therefore, the intensifying and widening of the repressions (simply out of the fear that something may happen) will become the mandatory requirement for the regime’s survival.


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