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Parliament and political parties in Kazakhstan

The parliament of Kazakhstan, consisting of the bi-cameral Senate and Majilis, has often been overlooked when regarding centers of power in the country. A dominant executive branch led by the President prevails in Kazakhstan, and in fact in every country in Central Asia, where traditionally the legislature and opposition political parties have been weak and relegated to an afterthought. Recent developments in the region have seen a somewhat new model of party politics emerging, one in which a strong president is complemented by a dominant "super party" in the national legislature as the result of "competitive" though well-managed elections. This trend has been seen most famously in Russia, where the United Russia party has asserted total dominance over the political landscape. Such a model may be both new and retro all at once, and is spreading into neighboring countries. In Kazakhstan this party is Nur-Otan, or "Fatherland's Ray of Light," which captured every seat via the new all party-list system in the August 2007 legislative elections. To dismiss the Senate and Majilis out of hand, however, as a rubber stamp body would be a mistake. The parliament is comprised of professionals who, while working under one platform, are well-educated individuals who lobby for the regions of the country they represent and the needs and concerns of their local constituents. Perhaps somewhat ironic is the fact that an all-party list Majilis, the lower house of the parliament, while dominated by Nur-Otan retains an almost regional flavor to it with individual deputies working for their citizens in their home constituencies. As will be discussed, the present, fourth convocation of the parliament, born out of the sweeping constitutional changes of 2007, represents not the evolutionary "ending point" of parliamentarism in Kazakhstan but rather the latest stage of it. Similarly, the election law remains a work in progress in spite of the move to reduce the impact of individual candidates by moving to a system emphasizing, as one official put it, "ideas over personalities." The opposition is in recovery mode from the 2007 elections at present, and one must take a look at who the opposition is and how they have developed over time into the present landscape that we see today. Does the landscape appear somewhat monotone at present? Perhaps, though a "greening" is inevitable, and one should not ignore the developments taking place within what one would incorrectly judge a dormant political environment. This paper will examine the current state of political parties and parliamentarism in Kazakhstan, as the country prepares to lead the OSCE in 2010, offering insight into their development as well as conclusions and recommendations.

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  • "The parliament of Kazakhstan, consisting of the bi-cameral Senate and Majilis, has often been overlooked when regarding centers of power in the country. A dominant executive branch led by the President prevails in Kazakhstan, and in fact in every country in Central Asia, where traditionally the legislature and opposition political parties have been weak and relegated to an afterthought. Recent developments in the region have seen a somewhat new model of party politics emerging, one in which a strong president is complemented by a dominant "super party" in the national legislature as the result of "competitive" though well-managed elections. This trend has been seen most famously in Russia, where the United Russia party has asserted total dominance over the political landscape. Such a model may be both new and retro all at once, and is spreading into neighboring countries. In Kazakhstan this party is Nur-Otan, or "Fatherland's Ray of Light," which captured every seat via the new all party-list system in the August 2007 legislative elections. To dismiss the Senate and Majilis out of hand, however, as a rubber stamp body would be a mistake. The parliament is comprised of professionals who, while working under one platform, are well-educated individuals who lobby for the regions of the country they represent and the needs and concerns of their local constituents. Perhaps somewhat ironic is the fact that an all-party list Majilis, the lower house of the parliament, while dominated by Nur-Otan retains an almost regional flavor to it with individual deputies working for their citizens in their home constituencies. As will be discussed, the present, fourth convocation of the parliament, born out of the sweeping constitutional changes of 2007, represents not the evolutionary "ending point" of parliamentarism in Kazakhstan but rather the latest stage of it. Similarly, the election law remains a work in progress in spite of the move to reduce the impact of individual candidates by moving to a system emphasizing, as one official put it, "ideas over personalities." The opposition is in recovery mode from the 2007 elections at present, and one must take a look at who the opposition is and how they have developed over time into the present landscape that we see today. Does the landscape appear somewhat monotone at present? Perhaps, though a "greening" is inevitable, and one should not ignore the developments taking place within what one would incorrectly judge a dormant political environment. This paper will examine the current state of political parties and parliamentarism in Kazakhstan, as the country prepares to lead the OSCE in 2010, offering insight into their development as well as conclusions and recommendations."@en

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  • "Parliament and political parties in Kazakhstan"
  • "Parliament and political parties in Kazakhstan"@en