© CABAR - Central Asian Bureau for Analytical Reporting
Please make active links to the source, when using materials from this website

What Is Wrong With Kazakhstan’s Election Law?

Parliamentary and local elections will be held in Kazakhstan on January 10, 2021. Shortly before, a number of changes were introduced in the election legislation.

Follow us on LinkedIn

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev outlined three main features of these elections in his speech on October 21, 2020:

  • the parliamentary opposition institution is introduced,
  • a 30% quota for women and youth in party lists is introduced
  • elections to maslikhats [local legislative bodies – Tr.] will now also be held according to party lists.
Read also: Parliamentary Election 2021 in Kazakhstan: What Voters Need to Know?

What is the difference between Mazhilis and maslikhat?

The Mazhilis is the lower house of the Parliament of Kazakhstan.

Maslikhats are local bodies elected by the region’s residents. They function in regions, cities and districts. They can solve the region’s issues themselves. For example, they can decide what the city should look like. This is a local representative body that can adopt decrees and acts regulating the local activities of these areas.

What inconsistencies can be found in the election law?

According to the Article 25-2 of the Constitutional Law on Elections of Kazakhstan, people with temporary registration of place of residence can vote. For example, if a person is permanently registered in Ust-Kamenogorsk, but temporarily registered in Almaty, he/she can vote at the place of temporary registration. In such a case, the address certificate could serve as the proof, but it was cancelled in 2019.

Now, people with temporary registration are «up in the air». Since then, the Central Election Commission has not developed a mechanism for including these people into additional voter lists. Their absence makes it impossible to register such citizens during the elections.

How and who compiles additional lists?

Additional voter lists are compiled by local election commissions on election day. The citizens must prove their registration at a particular voting district with the relevant documents, but since there is no address certificate, this cannot be proven.

Akimats claim they have a tool that determines belonging of a person to the district, but this raises the question of the effectiveness of this system and its transparency. After all, it is unknown how the observers will track this.

Is this the only non-transparent issue in the Law?

Unfortunately, it is not. The latest resolution of the Central Election Commission of Kazakhstan excludes most public organisations from the observation process. The reason for this is the absence of the point  «implementation and protection of the political rights of citizens» in the organisation’s charter.

The Law on Elections states that any organisation can send election observers, regardless of what is declared in their charter. However, the Central Election Commission worsened the situation and made this process impossible for many NGOs.

Read also: Elections in Kazakhstan: Why CEC Restricted Rights of Independent Observers? 

What does “vote by party lists” mean?

The party lists for Parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan are not new. In 2018, the amendments were made to the election law. From this year, elections to the district, city or regional maslikhats also are held according to the party lists. That is, only party members can be elected to maslikhats.

In fact, the institution of self-nomination was cancelled in Kazakhstan since 2018. Now, the question about the transparency of this system arises. Indeed, usually, the party lists are created before elections. For example, I have a list of 100 party members and I submit it to the Central Election Commission. This means that the list is ready. Thus, following the election results, if a party gets 70 seats, all people from #1 to #70 from this list will enter the Parliament.

Now, the opposite is true in Kazakhstan: any party can reshuffle its members. We do not understand who we vote for and this is a violation of voting rights. We do not know who will pass our laws in the future.

Why is self-nomination so important?

Now, if I care about my city, district or village, and I want to be a member of maslikhat, I cannot become one without a party membership card. All people who want to become members of the maslikhat and do not belong to the current parties, will no longer be able to realize their wish.

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Spelling error report
The following text will be sent to our editors: