Kazakhstan will hold snap elections for its lower house of parliament today. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev dissolved the chamber in January,
Kazakhstan will hold snap elections for its lower house of parliament today.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev dissolved the chamber in January, fulfilling a promise made last year. While 70% of deputies are party-nominated, Kazakhstan has no genuine opposition and the Amanat party—the former party of Tokayev and his longtime predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev—dominates the chamber.
After Nazarbayev resigned in 2019 following anti-government protests, Tokayev began to selectively liberalize Kazakhstan. He targeted corruption and limited his own power while granting more to parliament. Following further violent mass protests in 2022, he held a constitutional referendum that stripped Nazarbayev of various post-presidential privileges including immunity from prosecution. He also resigned from Amanat, pledging to stay out of party politics.
Today’s parliamentary election marks the third anniversary since Nazarbayev’s resignation, showcasing Kazakhstan’s progress under Tokayev. Amanat will almost certainly remain the chamber’s largest party but is unlikely to retain its 76 out of 107-seat dominance.
Still, the real seeds of democracy will be tested in the 30% of seats determined by single-mandate races where more than 400 candidates are competing, many self-nominated. Tokayev’s reforms largely came in response to public dissatisfaction. Should Kazakhs grow dissatisfied following today’s vote, further liberalizations are likely on the table.