KAZAKHSTAN Tokaev walks the same path as Nazarbaev

The presidential elections, brought forward after the constitutional reform, will be held on November 20. Like his predecessor, the president distances himself from the parties and presents himself with a “popular coalition.” Curiosity about one of the three candidates.

Moscow () – The registrations for the candidacies for the presidency of Kazakhstan have just closed for the elections on November 20 with 11 candidates, including three women. President Kasym-Žomart Tokaev was particularly interested in early elections following the amendments to the Constitution that were passed this year, and has heralded a time of great social and political change. However, many commentators believe that Tokaev is very afraid of losing power and is actually walking the same path as the “eternal president” Nazarbaev, whom he would like to make forget.

Interviewed by Radio Azattyk, the Kazakh political scientist Viktor Kovtunovskij points out that the president is running again in these elections, distancing himself from all the parties, as the head of a “popular coalition” that is not new in the recent history of Kazakhstan, because it was already thought by Nazarbaev in 2005 and later imitated by Vladimir Putin in Russia after 2012. “Tokaev is repeating many decisions of his predecessor, and the coalition is not even provided for by our laws, according to which a candidate is proposed by a party or by a social organization”, observes the expert.

The entire election campaign, Kovtunovskij continues, “is controlled and directed by the old bureaucratic apparatus, and we cannot expect many new developments regarding the practices of the ‘father of the country’ Nazarbaev.” On October 6, the popular coalition organized a large gathering of supporters to “gather around Tokaev”, another technique inherited from the past. The slogans recalled that “you don’t change horses when you cross the ford” and that “we need stability while the world sinks into chaos”.

The president has assured that he will not undertake exhausting electoral campaign activities, in order to “concentrate on his presidential responsibilities”, and the many international summits that have taken place in Kazakhstan in recent times are presented as successes of the mediation policy between the numerous contenders . This puts even more in evidence what is the line of the “official propaganda” of the only true candidate in the next elections.

Opponents do not appear to be a concern for Tokaev’s re-election at the moment, though Karakat Abden, 48, a candidate for the National Alliance of Professional Social Workers, is attracting a lot of attention. Abden defends women’s rights and social and demographic policy, and collaborates in the presidential administration. She is the one who stands out the most out of the three candidates. The other two are Fatima Bizakova and Saltanat Tursynbekova. The Akorda (the presidential palace) had previously presented a woman to comply with “gender equality”, but this time it seems a more credible candidacy.

Also causing a stir were the statements made by the leader of the National Party of Kazakhstan, the pro-Russian Ermukhamet Ertysbaev, the day Tokaev’s candidacy was presented. Ertysbaev spoke of “agents of foreign influence”, “Russophobia”, and the fact that Russia is fighting NATO in Ukraine. In reality, the population compactly supports Moscow’s distancing from the president, but the attempt to create internal tensions during the elections is evident.

The last elections of 2019 were held under the full control of Nazarbaev, and this time his “emancipated dauphin” shows some uncertainty, probably due to his past ties to the ruling caste. The anticipation of the elections makes it clear that the times to make the change effective are quite tight and it is necessary to avoid unforeseen ruptures or discrepancies of any kind.

However, the attempt to present himself as the only real candidate, without alternatives that are up to him, could have the opposite effect, shaking the traditional political apathy of the Kazakh people and causing an awareness whose consequences are difficult to foresee.

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