(Nursultan) :- On 21st October 2020, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev set the date for the elections to the Majilis (lower chamber) of Kazakhstan’s Parliament on 10 January 2021.
He stated that all political parties had time to prepare for the upcoming election campaign, develop an election platform, and enhance party infrastructure.
The election is going to be the first since Tokayev officially took office in 2019. The same year, he signed a decree that introduced a mandatory 30 percent minimum quota for women and young people in party lists in an effort to increase their role in the decision-making process.
Additionally, the threshold for registering new political parties has been lowered from 40,000 party members to 20,000, making it much easier to establish a new political party.
Majilis is the lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament that comprises 107 members elected for a five-year term. 98 members are elected by the general public by party lists (proportional representation system) and the remaining 9 members are elected by the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan – an advisory body under the President of Kazakhstan whose members are mostly drawn from ethnic minority organizations in order to ensure political empowerment of every ethnic community living in Kazakhstan.
The 98 publicly contested seats are elected using a 7% electoral threshold and allocated using the largest remainder method. If parties have an equal largest remainder, the party that was registered first is awarded the seat. If only one party crosses the threshold, the party with the second highest number of votes is awarded at least two seats regardless of 7% threshold.
In every election year since gaining its independence, Kazakhstan welcomed the widest possible array of international observers. Kazakhstan’s Central Election Commission (CEC) has already accredited 276 international observers since the 22 October opening of the Institute for International Election Observation.
The observers represent the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Observer Mission, the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) Limited Election Observation Mission, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) observer mission, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The accreditation of the observers is still ongoing and will conclude on 4 January 2021.
The election campaign kicked off on 10 December with five parties contesting for the parliamentary seats: Adal, Ak Zhol, Auyl, Nur Otan, and the People’s Party of Kazakhstan (previously known as Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan). All parties have registered their candidates and presented their platforms.
One of the major political parties in the country, the Nationwide Social Democratic Party, announced its decision to boycott the upcoming elections to protest the ongoing political reform program, which they believe is not genuinely helping the country’s political development.
Since independence less than 30 years ago, Kazakhstan has consistently supported efforts to foster a democratic, free and representative society.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has previously promulgated the concept of a ‘listening state’, which, beyond merely considering the views of the population, actively seeks public opinion in the policymaking process. Freedom of speech and opinions is being actively encouraged by the country with the launch of the institute of parliamentary opposition
Additionally, the National Council of Public Trust, an advisory body under the President has been established to conduct open dialogue with representatives of the public in order to develop specific proposals for reforming legislation and the public administration system.
All of these developments testify to the confident evolving nature of the country’s development under President Tokayev.