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Kazakhstan Is Willing To Demonstrate The Best And Most Innovative Parliamentary Election Practices In 2023

The early parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan follow the political turmoil and deadly violence of January 2022, the Constitutional referendum of June 5, 2022, and the early presidential election of November 20, 2022. The President of Kazakhstan proposed the new state model, “New and Fair Kazakhstan,” and introduced a “reform agenda for the reset and renewal of all major political institutions: the President, the Parliament, and the Government to be completed by mid-2023.”

Around 800 observers representing 12 international organizations and more than 40 foreign countries are monitoring the election. Additionally, 236 foreign journalists have received accreditation from the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cover the election. During the elections, observers closely follow fundamental components such as election-related legislation and its implementation, respect for fundamental freedoms, voters’ and candidates’ registration, media environment and coverage of the election, and the resolution of election-related disputes. The observers will also assess how prior OSCE ODIHR election-related recommendations, such as a limitation on fundamental freedoms, the limited voters’ ability to make an informed choice, a lack of pluralism, and limited freedom of speech, have been considered and implemented by Kazakhstan. The press conference with OSCE observers will occur in Astana on Monday, and today Kazakh people continuing voting for their candidates.

The international observers have met the media in Astana to answer their questions. “It is always interesting to observe how the post-soviet satellite states are moving to democracy,” said Daniel Robert Kawczynski, Member of Parliament, United Kingdom. “The will of Kazakh people to work together to create a functioning democracy is impressive. As a Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom, I learned while visiting the polling station that the whole campaign has been created for people, and it is enjoyable. I saw doctors at polling stations and was very impressed by this, so I would recommend it to our government for consideration. Kazakhstan is a pioneer in creating democracy. This is important for the whole world, as Kazakhstan is situated between China and Russia, both with authoritarian governments. It is crucial to have a stable democratic country in this region.”

The Professional Officer in the Political Department at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Said Chehi Said Hassani, mentioned that after visiting the polling station in Astana, the mission of international observers could clearly see the effort of Kazakhstan to organize the election according to international standards carefully. “The international standards have been fulfilled,” he said. “No violation of the process transparency has been noticed. We will continue working to provide support for Kazakhstan’s democratic efforts.”

“I’ve met one person at the polling station first thing in the morning and asked him what you voted for. He answered: “I did my first step toward a democratic and free Kazakhstan,” the Member of the Parliament of Romania, Member of the Kazakhstan-Romania Friendship Parliamentary Group Boris Volosatii explained.

Notwithstanding, the opinion of the electorate varies at polling stations. Many of them have high expectations from this parliamentary election, and some of them expressed concerns.

“In general, this election is the opportunity for people to vote for candidates they want to see in the government, – the voter said, – we, as people of Kazakhstan, believe that changes will occur, and this is why we vote today. I had enough time to introduce myself to the information and candidates’ profiles. It is my duty to vote.”

“When I came to the polling station,” another voter stated, “I asked about the total amount of candidates participating in this election, and no one was able to answer this question. I was disappointed. I didn’t even ask about details, I only asked about the number of candidates, and no one answered. I do believe people who work at polling stations must be well-informed and have better expertise. There are some positive changes in Kazakhstan, and we hope that this election will be effective and make a positive impact on the whole country. From this election, I expect the cardinal changes in government and replacing of its members, as we are aware of the current issues in Kazakhstan, and many of them occurred due to actions of the government. We need new visions, approaches, and voices in the Kazakh government.”

The number of local observers is also unprecedented in this election. Many of them have a decent experience in the election observation process. Despite the positive feedback from international colleagues, the local observers expressed some concerns and questioned the government’s readiness for democratic changes.

“I observed 4th election, and it is my civic duty, – said a local observer. This election goes by standards. I noticed that in this election, we have so many candidates and voters have choices. Voters think that independent candidates will help to present and protect voters’ interests in parliament. However, there are multiple cases when candidates’ applications have been declined during the candidate screening process. Often, those candidates were the most influential activists who criticize the current government and already have their electorate and supporters. The fact that they have been declined is confirming their huge potential and “political capital” for the future election. I do believe the government is not ready for the democratic dialogue in its full.”

Voters hope the democratic changes in Kazakhstan will happen soon and impact the state governance, economy, education, industry, and other sectors. The results of this election and international observers’ analysis will be announced on Monday, March 20th.

 

– Taya Rtichsheva, U Multicultural

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