They are economists, journalists, academics and activists. They ask for the truth about the arrests after the protests of January 2022. The system favors parties directly or indirectly linked to the elite in power. Government-controlled electoral commission.
Moscow () – In their manifesto they state: “we want a rule of law, a strong Parliament that can control the government, and a fair balance of the three powers, guaranteeing the independence of the media, the fourth power”.
A group of Kazakh candidates for single-member districts in the March 19 parliamentary elections presented their electoral program at a press conference in Almaty. It is the most populous city in Kazakhstan, the scene of the January 2022 protests that were repressed by the police with the help of Russian soldiers. The main objective of the group’s initiative is to “elevate Parliament’s powers.”
The economists Ayman Tursynkan and Mukhtar Tayžan, the journalist Ermurat Bapi, the political scientist Sanžar Bokaev, the humanitarian activist Erlan Kaliev and the independent observer Arajlym Nazarova are some of the best-known independent candidates in these elections. According to Tursynkan, “in order to carry out the reforms it is necessary to return to Parliament the effective legislative function; we want a true parliamentary republic.”
All members of the group express considerable skepticism about the real will of the current power to carry out reforms that are not only superficial. Commenting on the “new Kazakhstan” slogan launched by President Tokaev, Tayžan explains that “it’s a refrain invented by Nazarbaev’s students, who grew up on the first president’s cult of personality and are members of his party, Nur Otan.” . Nazarova considers the recent changes “a handful of sand in the eyes”, taking into account that in elections candidates not controlled from above can reach a maximum of 30%, “but we must not sit idly by either”.
In Almaty, independents also created the Altynšy Kantar (6th of January) movement to commemorate the start of the 2022 popular protests and the bloody repression that followed. It will be headed by Nazarova together with the lawyer Alnur Iljašev and the journalists Dinara Egeubaeva and Duman Mukhammedkarim, some of the most insistent in asking for transparency about the arrests at that time and the situation of the prisoners.
In the Mažilis, the lower house of Parliament, there are a total of 107 seats up for grabs: 29 of them in single-member districts, with an average of 15 candidates for each. The seven officially admitted political parties, none of which can be considered opposition, present a total of 281 candidates. The mixed electoral system is one of the novelties of these elections, which anticipate the expiration of the legislature after the elections that re-elected Tokaev as president at the end of last year.
The president affirms that the expansion of the candidacy system is a clear sign of the course taken towards the full democratization of Kazakh society. As the independents insist, this does not correspond to the liberalization of the other institutions and mechanisms of the system, including the formation of electoral commissions and electoral colleges, where tellers are appointed from above and observers are not granted real freedom.