As Kazakhstan’s incumbent president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev won the 2022 elections, Kazakhstan faces a new set of challenges and reforms yet to be made. The President was elected for a single 7-year term—a new constitutional reform—and promised to continue his course of steady reforms. As issues such as inflation and the war in Ukraine continue to handicap the world’s political and economic situation, here are a set of 7 goals—from short-term to long-term—for president Tokayev for his first, and last, term in the New Kazakhstan:
#1: Devolve more Power to the Parliament, and Diversify Its Composition: A crucial goal for any government when democratizing the society is to be able to hear the people, and in a republic like Kazakhstan, the job of the President is to ensure that the people are represented. In the Nazarbayev Era, the legislature’s competency was non-existent besides passing every law necessary to comply with and strengthen Nazarbayev’s rule. In his very recent inauguration speech, Tokayev announced elections to the Senate. However, the concern many Kazakhs today have is that newly registered parties will still be overseen by the Presidential Administration, not fully representing the people like previously.
#2: Create a Fair Court System:
Similar to the legislature, the court system was an instrument of the Nazarbayev regime to keep his power under control, not to check nor balance it: many politicians and businessmen, such as Margulan Seissembai and Mukhtar Dzhakishev, were illegitimately investigated by the government and unjustly persecuted if their interests and activities did not align with those of the Nazarbayev regime. Adding onto, the court system in the country still continues to be corrupt: according to the Corruption Perception Index, Kazakhstan earned a mere 37 points out of a 100. Tokayev, if truly wanting to leave a positive political legacy, should fix the existing situation by actively monitoring the judges, prosecuting and getting rid of corrupt ones.
#3: Bring back the Actives Lost or Illegally Taken abroad during the Nazarbayev Era: Tokayev’s most-wanted, long-lasting, and painful promise was to investigate and return the illegal money and active ownership of the oligarchs and government officials back to Kazakhstan. The recent elections, in which he reached an assured victory through more than 80% of the total votes, gave him a new legitimacy to rule the country. If he were to challenge the political and economic elites, he would undoubtedly earn the people’s support, but could get involved in a tough battle against the businessmen and bureaucrats who were too comfortable in their seats for 30 years of Nazarbayev’s rule.
#4: Industrialise Kazakhstan, Opening the Doors to a Strong Rural Economy: Perhaps the mostcomfortable for the President to execute, and the most agreeable upon among all the controversial topics, is the industrialisation of Kazakhstan and developing the rural
areas; the President touched upon this issue even in his inauguration speech. While it is quite easy to see how much the world is in need of food security, Kazakhstan can use the already existing geopolitical situation to its advantage by investing in agriculture; for throughout centuries, Kazakhstan has always been the place of nomadic rural economy with currently 40% of its population living in villages. The only challenge, once again relating to the old system, can be the disputes of the President with the tycoons and monopolists in the agricultural section.
#5: Originate the Idea of a Kazakh Nation:
What is Kazakhstan? Who are the Kazakhs? Without a clear answer to this question in the Kazakh minds, it would be impossible to imagine a country progressing socioeconomically while withstanding the ultimatums of history. An absence of Kazakhstan’s set of national ideals that would consolidate the people would be a clear danger to national security.
The consolidation of a nation would have to begin with the processes of improving the Kazakh language’s current condition by enacting reforms that would make it easy for every citizen to learn and speak it, enforcing its widespread use in the government (less people in the Presidential Administration, the Parliament—Majilis, and the Ministerial Cabinet of Kazakhstan today know Kazakh than they know Russian, just to make it clear), and encouraging the businesses socially and financially to revitalise the use of Kazakh in Kazakhstan.
The issue of language is one of the few urgent issues yet to be addressed, and with anticipation, the President will make it clear indeed that Kazakh is the language uniting more than 130 ethnicities living there. Only after formalising the use of Kazakh language and encouraging its widespread use, the Kazakhs can move onto discussing the concepts of religious, political, and economic vectors of Kazakhstan in the future.
#6: Continue Pursuing the Multi-Vector Foreign Policy:
The goal that I am most optimistic about being accomplished successfully is the diplomatic relations of Kazakhstan with the world. As a high-ranking diplomat with the most valuable experience, President Tokayev quickly grasped the importance of diversifying the social, economic, and political connections of Kazakhstan: his recent visits to Iran, Turkey, Qatar, and Western states such as France and the United States have proven this viewpoint. While he declared devotion to allyship with China, Russia, and Central Asian countries, which naturally will be the focus of Kazakh diplomacy due to its geopolitics, creating more bonds with diverse countries will be beneficial to the prospering of a young nation such as Kazakhstan.
#7: Generate Social and Political Traditions to Strengthen the Political Arena: From the town hall meetings held for centuries to the relatively recent introduction of television debates, America has been seen as a harbinger of the traditions in a democratic society. To leave a stable yet very progressing legacy behind himself, President Tokayev has to be the initiator of social and political customs in the country.
Since Kazakhstan’s independence, everything that has been done in this field by the first president’s administration, to put it mildly, was seen as a spectacle in a theater, the only thing varying from an actual show being the audience angry by the actions and scenario of it. While establishing a strong and effective Parliament and an overseeing judiciary, the President needs to, and I think he does, understand that for the continuous functioning of a democratic system, the people need to be well-informed on what being active in politics really means and what it can really have the potential to change.
Policies such as enacting civics classes, allowing different parties to be active in schools and colleges, and creating a party system in which people will freely assemble and voice their minds would be the true continuation of democratization of Kazakhstan. The fathers of America stated that the people have the right to abolish a government that does not guarantee “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness;” the French rooted for the establishment of the notion of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité!”
Let’s wait and see what the Tokayev administration has to bring to the table of the Kazakh people for the construction of a New, Just Kazakhstan.