Parliamentary Elections-2021 in Kazakhstan
Further step towards democratisation, international cooperation
For the first time in the last 16 years, it will not be early but as constitutionally prescribed. The powers of the current convocation of the Mazhilis end on March 24, 2021. This means that the elections of the Mazhilis members should be held two months before this date, that is in January 2021.
Five political parties out of six registered in the country are participating in the upcoming elections:
- The “Nur Otan” party;
- The democratic party of Kazakhstan “Ak Zhol”;
- The people’s democratic party “Auyl”;
- The “Adal” party;
- The People’s Party of Kazakhstan.
In total, 312 candidates are included in the lists of political parties in the Mazhilis, and 832 party lists are registered in the Maslikhats.
According to the newly adopted laws, initiated by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the number of signatures collected (up to 20,000) required for the registration of political parties has been reduced by half. This greatly simplifies the creation of a new party, and several associations have already announced their intention to register.
Registration of parties ended on December 10, 2020, so the election campaign has entered into its final phase and will be held to January 9, 2021. Parties are actively fighting for votes both offline and online, which is especially relevant in the context of pandemic restrictions. Several rounds of debates among party leaders and representatives have already been held live on national TV channels. The election silence day comes into effect 24 hours before the election.
The elections-2021 will be held in a new way. We are talking about the legislative reforms carried out over the past year and a half, initiated by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and aimed at further strengthening democratic institutions in the country.
The first is the introduction of the institution of parliamentary opposition which provides for additional guarantees of representation of parliamentary minority parties in the governing structures of the Mazhilis. Now the election of one Chairperson and two Secretaries of the Standing Committees of the Mazhilis will be carried out from among members of the parliamentary opposition.
The parliamentary opposition has the right to initiate parliamentary hearings at least once during one session, as well as to determine the agenda of the government hour at least twice during one session. At the same time, the leaders of political parties’ factions are granted a guaranteed right to speak at the:
- joint sessions of the Chambers of Parliament;
- plenary sessions of the Mazhilis;
- meetings of the Standing Committees;
- working group meetings;
- parliamentary hearings and other events.
Secondly, new principles have been introduced in the Law “On Elections in the Republic of Kazakhstan” and the Law “On Political Parties”. For the first time, a 30% quota for the representation of women and young people on party lists will be applied in this election. In other words, at least one third of candidates from the parties must be women and citizens under 29 years of age.
“This rule will become an effective mechanism for involving women and young people in the parliament and local representative bodies, which will promote their more active participation in the country’s socio-political processes,” President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stressed.
The third major innovation is that the upcoming elections to the Maslikhats will be held on party lists for the first time. In the past, local elections were held under the single-member system.
We believe that the proportional model fully corresponds to the world democratic practice, contributes to the strengthening of the political system, the development of democracy, and activates the activities of political parties. These innovations will provide parties with additional opportunities to strengthen their positions in the country’s political system.
In the context of the pandemic, the elections will be held in compliance with the mask regime and a social distance of 1.5-2 metres, with the use of antiseptics, secret voting booths will be without a front curtain, and voters will show their identity cards to members of the commissions at a distance.
Thus, the recent legislative changes and the upcoming parliamentary elections, which our country intends to hold in accordance with the highest democratic standards, with the participation of almost 400 observers from many states and international organisations, will be the next step towards democratisation and international cooperation.