Kazakhstan to kick off election primaries

Nine thousand candidates for Kazakhstan’s ruling party, Nur Otan, will today initiate their primary election campaigns ahead of the 2021

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Photo: REUTERS/Pavel Mikheyev

Nine thousand candidates for Kazakhstan’s ruling party, Nur Otan, will today initiate their primary election campaigns ahead of the 2021 parliamentary elections.

The party currently holds 84 of the 98 party list seats in the 107-seat Majlis—the lower house of parliament. Nur Otan, which has been in power since 1999, has benefited from the lack of free and fair elections, according to international observers.

Despite the lack of competition, a commodities boom has sparked economic growth and the party holds genuine support among voters as a result. The party’s leader and permanently appointed “father of the nation”, Nursultan Nazarbayev, maintains influence on the party’s strategic direction despite resigning the presidency last year.

Newly-elected President Kassym-Jomart Tokaev will likely continue an ongoing “reboot” programme to rejuvenate the party in the post-Nazarbayev transition. However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, expect the party to concentrate on a cohesive economic response, including a $1 billion stimulus and other targeted assistance. In the long-term, the party will likely continue Nazarbayev’s push to diversify the economy away from its reliance on oil and gas—which only represent 15% of the economy but spur the majority of GDP growth—with investment in renewables, funded in part by China’s Belt and Road projects.

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