No Point in Election Debates

Director of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law Evgeniy Zhovtis does not see a point in debating over the presidential elections scheduled for June 9, 2019. The procedure, in his opinion, has nothing to do with the expression of the citizens’ free will.

Evgeniy Zhovtis justifies his opinion in his reply to a question of a Facebook user:

— As for my personal feelings in regard to elections in Kazakhstan, I would say that, since the beginning of the 1990s, we have not had an election that complied with the international standards in any way (for example, those described in the OSCE Copenhagen document of 1990). There are several reasons for that.

First, we have no political pluralism i.e. the freedom of creating and managing political parties including those of the oppositionist variety.

Second, the political opposition has no access to the media. For that matter, the independent media, especially radio and TV, are practically non-existent in our country.

Third, the opposition has no possibility to effectively reach out to the voters which, considering the size of our territory and the disperse and small population, creates enormous problems in distributing alternative political information.

Fourth, we have not had any kind of political debates either on the national or the regional level for the past 15 years.

Fifth, oppositionist politicians have no opportunities for pursuing a political career since the authorities operate as if they were an English lawnmower that leaves behind only a manicured political lawn where anyone who sticks out without permission is to be trimmed immediately. This is a classic authoritarian political regime in which the secret service and the police ensure the lack of alternatives to the ruling elite with the support of the public prosecutor and the courts.

Amid all this, I do not see any point in debating over two-week political campaigns or the date of the voting. This procedure that we call «elections» has nothing to do with the informed expression of the citizens’ will in the context of free political competition. For this reason, I am preoccupied with, in my opinion, more important things observing this «teapot tempest» from afar. At present, we not see any signs indicating that the situation may change in a cardinal way.


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