Reforms bring new political culture in Kazakhstan


On 30 August, Kazakhstan marks Constitution Day. This year it is celebrated for the first time after the amendments to the Сonstitution following a nationwide referendum last year.


At the time of our Constitution’s initial signing in 1995, we were a young nation facing the many challenges encountered by the newly independent country. Building a strong liberal economy was the priority. Meanwhile, 2022 reform granted more powers and influence to parliament and the local government. Presidential powers have been limited. In line with the updated Constitution, the President of Kazakhstan is now elected for only a single seven-year term, without the right to re-election, which is completely unique for our region.

Kazakhstan has established and further strengthened mechanisms that protect human rights by enhancing the role and status of the Ombudsperson for Human Rights, the Ombudsperson for children’s rights, and the Ombudsperson for protecting people with disabilities.

We have also reestablished the Constitutional Court. Kazakhstan’s citizens, including the Prosecutor General and the Ombudsperson, can now directly apply to the Constitutional Court to declare unlawful norms that, in their view, contradict the principles of the Constitution.

The impact of the constitutional amendments was particularly visible during the parliamentary and local elections that were held in March this year. Simplifying the process for registering political parties resulted in new parties that took part in the elections. These elections are considered by many domestic and international political experts to have been the most competitive in Kazakhstan’s modern history. In line with the constitutional changes, which also include direct election of rural mayors, a proportional-majoritarian model was used in the parliamentary election for the first time since 2004. This enabled numerous self-nominated candidates to participate in single-mandate districts along with party candidates. Six parties managed to pass the five percent threshold needed to get into parliament.

Ultimately, thanks to reforms, a new civic and political culture has taken shape in Kazakhstan’s society. Of course, our path to overhaul the existing system in our country is far from over. Transformations and reforms, including social and economic, are a constant work in progress to ensure that the country keeps up with global changes, trends, and challenges that continuously spring up.

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