Early Presidential Election to Transform Kazakhstan’s Political System, Says Preside

Early Presidential Election to Transform Kazakhstan’s Political System, Says President Tokayev

ASTANA – The presidential election on Nov. 20 will kick off an electoral cycle that will completely transform the political system in the country, said Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in a Sept. 21 address to the nation, the Akorda press service reported.

In the address, President Tokayev announced that the elections will be held on Nov. 20, 2022.  Along with elections for the highest post in the country, Tokayev announced elections for the Parliament and local executive bodies during his Sept. 1 state-of-the-nation address, in effect ensuring the restructuring of the entire government.

“I call on all fellow citizens to show responsibility, to be true to the principles of democracy, law, and order, and to show cohesion and unity of our people,” Tokayev said, urging citizens to engage in the country’s political life. He also announced that he would put his candidacy forward in the upcoming elections.

“The Election Manifesto, which I will soon present to the public, will outline new initiatives aimed at achieving socio-economic progress. As the current Head of State, I guarantee that the election campaign will be conducted in strict accordance with the law, it will be held fairly, openly and with the broad participation of domestic and international observers.”

Rationale for early presidential election and changes to presidential term

  • President Tokayev first announced his proposal to hold the early presidential election in his state-of-the-nation address on September 1, 2022. He explained that “for the successful implementation of radical and comprehensive reforms aimed at building a Just Kazakhstan, a new mandate of trust of the people is required.”
  • In the same address, President Tokayev also proposed to limit the presidential term to a single seven-year period without the right to re-election (previously two five-year terms).
  • The Head of State explained that “limiting the presidential mandate to one term will ensure the maximum focus of the head of state on the strategic tasks of national development”. He also described it as “a real breakthrough in developing democracy in Kazakhstan”.
  • On 16 September, Kazakhstan’s parliament voted unanimously to support constitutional amendments that would extend the presidential term to seven years (among other changes to the Constitution).
  • On 21 September, President Tokayev’s address to the people of Kazakhstan was published. In it, the President stated that “in accordance with the previously announced electoral schedule and in accordance with the Constitution of the country, today I signed a Decree on holding early election of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan on November 20, 2022.”

 Timetable of the presidential election

  • 21 September – Date of the election set through a presidential decree
  • 23 September – Nomination of candidates begins
  • 11 October – Deadline for nomination of candidates
  • 23 September – 21 October – Verification of the candidate’s compliance with the requirements of the Constitution and the constitutional law on the election, as well as collection of signatures
  • 21 October – Election campaigning begins, lasting until 18 November (28 days)
  • 19 November – “Day of silence” (legislation prohibits campaigning and electioneering one day prior to the election)
  • 20 November – Voting takes place
  • 21-22 November – Tabulation of preliminary results
  • By 27 November – Confirmation of the results and registration of the elected President

List of candidates

Following the verification of the candidate’s compliance with the requirements of the Constitution and the constitutional law, the following six candidates will participate in the upcoming election. As per the timetable of the election, the campaigning will run until November 18.

  • Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (incumbent President) – candidate of the People’s Coalition (unites over 30 non-governmental organisations and parties).
  • Karakat Abden – National Alliance of Professional Social Workers. She is a public figure, a member of the National Commission for Women Affairs, Family and Demographic Policy.
  • Meiram Kazhyken – Commonwealth of Amanat Trade Unions. He is the head of the Astana School of Economics at the Astana International Science Complex (ISCA).
  • Nurlan Auesbayev – National Social Democratic Party (NSDP). He is the head of the NSDP’s Astana division.
  • Saltanat Tursynbekova – Qazaq analary – dasturge zhol (Kazakh mothers are a path to traditions) public association. She is a human rights activist, who focuses on women’s and children’s rights.
  • Zhiguli Dairabayev – Auyl party. He is the chair of the Agro-Industrial Complex Committee at the Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs and the chair of the Association of Farmers.

Requirements for candidates:

Candidates can be nominated by registered political parties and public associations.

According to the Constitution of Kazakhstan, a presidential candidate must meet the following requirements:


–        Citizen of Kazakhstan by birth

–        40 years old or more

–        Fluent in the state language

–        Living in Kazakhstan for the last fifteen years

–        Possess a higher education

–        Without a criminal record

–        At least five years’ experience in the civil service or an elected government position

–        Supported by at least 1% of the total number of voters equally representing at least two thirds of regions, cities of republican significance and the capital (approximately 118,000 signatures)

Background to Kazakhstan’s electoral system

  • The Republic of Kazakhstan is a unitary state with a presidential form of government.
  • Kazakhstan’s Constitution defines free elections as the fundamental principle of organising state power, and the people as the bearer of sovereignty and the only source of state power.
  • A competitive system ensures that different political parties and candidates can participate in elections. They all enjoy freedom of speech, assembly, and movement to make their political views heard.
  • According to the provisions of the Constitution and legislation, presidential elections is held on the basis of universal, equal and direct suffrage by a secret ballot.
  • The President of Kazakhstan is elected using the two-round system; if more than two presidential candidates are included in the ballot and no one receives a majority of the vote in the first round, a second round is held between the top two candidates.
  • Following amendments to legislation last year, a “none of the above” option was introduced on the ballots. This option will also be in place for the upcoming presidential election.
  • Following amendments to the Constitution earlier this year, the President of Kazakhstan is elected for a single term of seven years.
  • The Central Election Commission (CEC) of Kazakhstan will be responsible for organising and conducting the early presidential election.
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Rizwan Haider Shah

Written by Rizwan Haider Shah

Mr. Rizwan Haider Shah is Executive Director & Bureau Chief Gilgit-Baltistan at Global Affairs. He can be reached at rizwan.shah@globalaffairs.com.pk

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