Results of Kazakhstan Presidential election— A review
As a result of snap presidential election held in Kazakhstan, the incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbayev once again won by a wide margin and 95.22% voters polled in favour of him. Voter turnout was a record 97.7 percent of eligible voters.
On April 26, Kazakhstan held early presidential elections. This is the second snap election held over the last five years and Kazakhs voted again for Nursultan Nazarbayev who has been President for over 20 years. By law, the first president of the independent Kazakhstan may stand for elections unlimited number of times. Nazarbayev is the father of the nation who attained freedom and independence the Republic of Kazakhstan.
This year, three candidates contested for Presidential slot – Nursultan Nazarbayev, the representative of the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan Turgun Syzdykov and trade union leader of the Republic Abelgazi Kusainov. Election results indicate Syzdykov won 1.6% votes, Kusainov – 0.7%, finishing second and third places respectively.
It is interesting to note that for the first time in years the election platforms of the candidates were strikingly different from each other.
Nursultan Nazarbayev offered voters economic reforms. In particular, his program incorporated all the public policies for medium and long-term development pursued over the last few years. However, the central place belonged to the main anti-crisis program “Nurly Jol – Path to the Future” proposed by N. Nazarbayev last fall. It formed the basis of his campaign promises.
In particular, it refers to the government’s policy to create a large number of jobs through infrastructure projects, including road construction. Kazakhstan plans to leverage its geopolitical position and to become a transportation ‘bridge’ for goods from China to Europe and back. In addition, the strategy offered by Nazarbayev includes gradual restructuring of the economy to reduce the effect of the so called “Dutch disease” (today more than a third of Kazakhstan’s budget depends on oil exports).
At the same time, the electoral program of President Nursultan Nazarbayev contains proposals for social development of the country: the modernization of education, health and welfare for the population. Currently, Kazakhstan is among the most competitive countries in the world and already reached the standards of living of middle-income countries (in 2014 GDP per capita was $ 13 000). In the near future (2050) Kazakhstan plans to enter the list of top thirty developed countries of the world.
However ambitious these plans may seem, the citizens believe N. Nazarbayev. In fact, the incumbent and now re-elected president of Kazakhstan is known to deliver on his promises: all the intentions he voiced so far were realized. Today, Kazakhstan is one of the most successful developing countries of the former USSR.
In addition, the citizens of Kazakhstan associate the peace and the policy of tolerance among the 140 nationalities living in the country only with the personality of Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Moreover, public opinion polls showed that at present time no other politician in Kazakhstan is perceived as able to maintain the same level of stability in the country should they come to power.
As for the election programs of other candidates, they did not measure up to scale.
The candidate from the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan Turgun Syzdykov, in addition to the communist slogans, relied on anti-Western theses. He opposes the dominance of Western culture, including on television and in movies. He stated that Hollywood “distributed the easy carefree life standards penetrated with hypocrisy and cowardice”. He also criticized the unhealthy diet of Western countries and the problem of education of youth. For Kazakh youth, Syzdykov offered “a chance for self-realization”, “equal starting opportunities, effective social elevators and high social ideals”.
However, he offered nothing to prevent these “wrong things” from entering Kazakhstan.
In fact, the Communists’ candidate election program was the shortest not only in these, but all previously held presidential elections in Kazakhstan – offering only half a page of text.
Another candidate – Chairman of the Association of Trade Unions of Kazakhstan Abelgazi Kusainov – followed the path of Al Gore: he chose ecologic issues as his main argument. At a meeting with voters he mentioned that “In an era of technological progress ‘green’ sphere becomes even more vulnerable. Therefore, our primary objective should be – a rational and planned use of natural resources, protection of the environment from pollution, the introduction of a planned system of state control”. The candidate called for “a greater attention to the issues of conservation and sustainable use of natural resources and the establishment of a systematic monitoring of enterprises and organizations for the use of land, water, forests, minerals and other natural resources. He called for greater attention to issues of pollution prevention of soil, surface water and groundwater, and strengthening efforts for the conservation of waters and forests, conservation and reproduction of flora and fauna, prevention of air pollution, as well as the implementation of a system for securing industrial safety”.
Nevertheless, just like with Mr. Gore, the “green theme” failed the Kazakh presidential candidate to win the election.
The narrowness of these election programs may have led to the low percentage of votes for these candidates.
The only thing that united all three presidential candidates – was the unconditional support for the Eurasian integration within the Eurasian Economic Union. Against the background of the economic problems in the largest member of EAEC – Russia – a number of people in Kazakhstan voiced their concern on the merits of such integration. In addition, national patriots recently played on the possible loss of sovereignty in case of the strengthening of integration processes and increased lobbying from Moscow. However, at the official level, including the politicians during the election race, the possibility of rejection of EAEC was not considered.
These fifth in a row election victory for the President of Kazakhstan by Nursultan Nazarbayev, reiterate the view that the people do not see other country’s politicians in whom they can entrust their future.
Writer Varonika is correspondent of Eurasian News Desk for central Asia and Eastern Europe. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Dispatch News Desk. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of Dispatch News Desk.