The organization loyal to Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev has offered to conduct presidential elections in the country a year earlier. The experts claim this will calm the elite and will not postpone plebiscite in the conditions of growing problem in the economy.
On February 14, 2015 the delegates of the Consultative agency chaired by Nazarbayev unanimously voted for the initiative to conduct elections in April 2015 instead of 2016.
The members of the Assembly assure that “in the conditions of the growing world economic crisis and difficult international situation, the initiative to conduct elections is the demand of time,” and “therefore President Nursultan Nazarbayev should be given a new mandate of national trust.”
Lately Nazarbayev repeatedly emphasized that the country’s economy is at risk, because of geopolitical tension between East and West and the sanctions imposed on Russia. In February 2014 the National Bank of Kazakhstan devaluated the national currency tenge by almost 20%. The Assembly explained its initiative by the fact that in 2016 the country must conduct both presidential and parliamentary elections and such a combination of two wide-scale electoral campaign is “inadvisable.”
It is very common for Kazakhstan to conduct presidential or parliamentary elections ahead of time and usually the government refers to some unfavorable foreign factors. The current decision is most likely connected with the Kazakhstan government’s fears that year 2015 will be very difficult for the country, so it will reduce trust in the authorities, Dosym Satpayev, Director of the Kazakhstan Group of Risk Evaluation, told RBC.
Satpayev mentioned that among the alternative politicians nobody can seriously compete with Nazarbayev. The opposition field has been cleansed and the country would not have competition even in case of planned elections, but the Kazakhstan’s government is the hostage of high score: it is unacceptable to score less, than during the previous elections.
Lately the experts have again started discussing possible devaluation of tenge, but if the authorities would not do that, then it would have caused mistrust of the population. The government has decided to formally postpone this step, but it could return to this issue after early elections, Satpayev said. If President approves early elections, then could be conducted this spring.
Satpayev believes that in this situation it is not elections, but will follow them is more important – because of Nazarbayev ‘s old age, this will be, possibly, the last elections for him and it forces him to look for the successor. The successor has not been named yet, but there is a short list of candidates, which has not changed a lot in the past years. Among the candidates were Premier Karim Masimov and President’s son-in-law Timur Kulibayev.
Expert Grozin said that appearance of the successor is impossible during Nazarbayev’s life. In Middle Asia the ruler has to either die or to flee for the elite to start using the future leader, who will gradually concentrate the entire power in his hands. “Who knew Berdymohammadov (Turkmenistan President)? He was appointed by the military and it was considered that he will be the controlled marionette and see what has happened,” Grozin said. Expert reminded that both Defense Minister and head of the presidential guard have lost their positions long time ago.
The previous presidential elections were also conducted ahead of time in Kazakhstan in April 2011 and Nazarbayev scored 95.55% votes. According to the Kazakhstan Constitution, one person can be twice elected to the presidential position, but the law has made exception for the first President Nazarbayev and he has received the mandate of trust four times.
* Nazarbayev is Kazakhstan’s President since 1990.