Political parties of Kazakhstan: problems of development or “marking time”?


Even the «Nur Otan» is not in power but «near» the power.

Have we any chance to have a real independent political party in Kazakhstan? The question is by no means rhetoric. Twice in 1996 and 2002 the legislation on political parties was changed. The number of parties on plan of initiators of these legislative changes should have been reduced. The number of parties reduced, but after a short time reached again the number of 10 parties. But the quantity hasn't transformed into quality. The role of civilized mediator between the Government and society is not up to any political party of Kazakhstan not in the past, not in the future. If the past mistakes aren't taking into account, the political parties wouldn't have in the nearest future any perspective to become this mediator.

2009-05-19-ak-zholThe achievement of political Power is one of the essential goals of the political party. The Power in this case is like the challenge cup in the championship. You are enjoying public confidence? Then, please, form the Government on the base of parliamentary majority. You haven't this majority? Then you should form the coalition with other parties or go to the country, trying to earn the public confidence. So many things in the world depend on the confidence. Even the cause of the global economic crisis was the crisis of confidence between the bancs, between the creditors and borrowers.

But there is one objection: even some manuals in political science treat indirectly political parties with distrust. In some domestic manuals in political science we can see the thesis of «attainment of political power». But the conqueror doesn't return what he had conquered. This thesis is only admissible for V.Lenin and I.Stalin. This thesis has survived them. It is already in 1996 the political scientist Meirjan Mashanov concluded that political parties in Kazakhstan operate like the «pressure groups» and not like the real political parties. The «Pressure group» doesn't have the achievement of political power as the goal. In our political system its goal is to promote some initiative: reduction of tax rates, increase of budget expenses for some social sector and so on.

So the problem of the domestic parties' development is easy formulated: would the political parties change their tactic of «pressure groups» on the implementation of essential party's functions or not? First of all it is the function of political power achievement and not of «attainment of political power». The today's answer is «no». Even the «Nur Otan» is not in power but «near» the power.

From 1990-s we can see that there is the «marking time» instead of real development of the parties. First of all the dilemma «to be under the protection of the authorities or to be independent» was resolved in the second variant but outwardly this «marking time» wasn't very evident. The members of informal social groups of 1980-s in 1990-s created first political organizations: Social democratic party of Kazakhstan, the Movement «Azat», «Jeltoksan». But they were deprived of the care of the authorities. Under the patronage of the authorities and President Nursultan Nazarbayev personally after the august putsch were created two parties: Socialist party of Kazakhstan and Popular Congress of Kazakhstan.

Secondly, the development of the political parties should have had the logical end in the formation of two-party or multi-party system. But all these projects remained on paper and deserve attention only of historians and political scientists. The Power patronage had the other side, which was unknown to the new «party creators». The question is that the consequence of the presidential power becomes apparent in the appearance of disaffected people even in pro-presidential country. The history of democrats and republicans in United States of America, of politicians and parties in Latin America is the evident confirmation of this thesis. It is no mere chance that the Social party of Kazakhstan and Popular Congress of Kazakhstan created under the patronage of the authorities turned into opposition. In the countries with the parliamentary power it is just on the contrary: even if the opposition parties have considerable difficulties of the tactic character, the deputies of the dominant party in key insight would vote for the policy of the Government. The solidarity of the opposition forces the deputies of the dominant party to unite. There is another situation in Kazakhstan: the Social party of Kazakhstan and Popular Congress of Kazakhstan turned into opposition.

The authorities have found a new support in the Party of the people's unity of Kazakhstan. This party refrained from the turn into opposition. In 1995 a similar Democratic party of Kazakhstan appeared. In 1995 the former opposition, which has its representatives in composition of the Supreme Soviet of the thirteenth convocation, didn't actively participate in the Parliament elections. The Socialist party didn't nominate any candidates, and it was the beginning of its disappearance in the next few years. The Democratic party of Kazakhstan didn't later show its activity till its closure in March 1999.

The conflict between the strong presidential power and the necessity to have a party system was resolved by the President's approaching to the activity of the dominant party. In March 1999 the place of inactive Party of the people's unity of Kazakhstan was occupied with the party formed on the basis of the Republican staff, which was promoting the candidature of Nursultan Nazarbaev to the President post. Party of the people's unity of Kazakhstan, Democratic Party of Kazakhstan and the Liberal Movement formed the new dominant party «Nur Otan» (former «Otan»). But only after the changes in Constitution in May 2007 the party's activity from elections to elections was ended. The holding of governmental service with the party activity was allowed. As a rule Akims are at the head of regional and local branches of the party and the ministers are interested in obtaining the party cards. The logic of this move is clear: if the strong presidential power puts obstacles in the way of the formation of the strong loyal and opposition parties, it could also favour the formation of the strong loyal party under the direct control of the President.

The loyal parties began to play the role of the «Pressure groups». The Democratic party of Kazakhstan was created by high-ranking officials. But neither Tajin, nor Shaykenov, nor Sarsenbaev, the initiators of the Democratic Party's creation had the interest to create a real concurrent to the Party of the people's unity of Kazakhstan. More effective as the «Pressure groups» were the Civil party of Kazakhstan and the Agrarian party of Kazakhstan. Business wished to have a «party umbrella» over its head: the first were the Mashkevich's group and big agrarians (initiators of the Agrarian party). In 1999 other business groups were far from the autonomous participation in politic.

The situation changed in 2001. The domestic business was getting stronger and wished more power. That was the cause of creation at the end of 2001of a new Movement — «Democratic choice of Kazakhstan». The split of the Movement led to the formation of the new party — «Ak Jol». At the moment it became obvious that a radical restriction of the Parliament's power in 1995 delivered high-ranking officials from the Parliament's control. But this restriction was the cause of a new problem. The phenomenon of Rakhat Aliev was predictable. There was no power to control him: the Parliament' power is limited, the officials can't be against the all-powerful President's relation, and courts are under control of the same executive power.

The subjective factor of Rakhat Aliev has accelerated the process of politicization of disaffected businessmen. On the other hand the authorities have learned to operate delicately. The party-list elections of 10 deputies of Mazhilis, introduced in 1999, were the cause of the opposition's split. The creation of the opposition Republic popular party in 1998 with A.Kajegeldin at its head, of the National patriotic Movement «Azat» at the beginning of 1990-s on base of the part of the same name Movement, of the National party «Alash» and of the party «Azamat», was the manifestation of this opposition fragmentation.
The aspiration to be the second party brought to the concurrence for the votes of opposition part of electorate between Republic popular party, Communist party and party «Azamat». Next to them were the party outsiders: Renaissance party of Kazakhstan (Rukhaniyat) and non-existent party National party «Alash». In the present time in this concurrence take part also party «Auil», Rukhaniyat, Patriots party and Communist popular party of Kazakhstan, which broke off from Communist party.

The power patronage could be seen right in this split. The ordinary causes of the opposition split are the difficulties between the party leaders and the «hand» of the power. These causes are grounded but the attention to the inner causes is also necessary. The Kazakh parties are built on very strange principle: the head of the party (the leader or the co-chairmen) matters more than all other party structures. In other words it is not the head which rests upon the whole «party body», but all this party structure is an adjunct to this head. If the head is «switched off», the party activity is also ended. There are many ways of such «turning off»: transfer of the leader to the governmental post, change of his political views, loss of interest to the party activity and so on. One of the consequences of this one-man concentration is the leader's irremovability. This one-man concentration is fatal for the opposition parties and weakens the dominant party.

The last initiative was to unite the opposition parties. The Organizing Committee, created 11 April 2009 represents the new attempt of this consolidation. But the last experience shows the lack of any prospect to this project. Would these lessons be taken into account? Forum of democratic powers, the Movement «For the fair Kazakhstan», different blocks appeared in the period before or after the elections. Then they departed from life. If there were no real creative to propose something new to revive the activity of former parties, then it is necessary to present some new vision of the problem. The interest of other persons of the party, who are near the leader, should be also taken into account. It is also necessary to remember that the «one-man concentration» could play a bad joke with all unifying processes.

Four opposition parties — Communist party of Kazakhstan, Democratic Party «Azat» (created on base of former «Nagiz Ak Jol»), All-National Social-Democratic Party of Kazakhstan and party «Alga», which is not registered, differ in ideological guidelines. Communist party of Kazakhstan remains a Marxist organization; All-National Social-Democratic Party of Kazakhstan tries to assimilate social-democratic ideology. Democratic Party «Azat» holds the liberal point of economic liberties plus uses some populism of ethnic character. Party «Alga» has demonstrated the largest political non-conformism without any pronounced ideological bindings. All these ideologies were taken from the past (as in the case with the Communist party) or were the substitutes of the real doctrines. Then the attempt to create a party could have no success because of the ideology. The effectiveness of the consolidation in this case is really poor.

Has any party of Kazakhstan something understandable and in the same time incentive to propose to the citizen of Kazakhstan? Political strategist could write a good program, but he couldn't substitute the head and the heart of the political leader. The presidential elections in 2005 showed that the inattention to the needs of electorate could have as the result the loss of votes of opposition electorate. The opposite candidature J.Tuyakbay in the course of the televised debates hadn't said anything in Russian. It isn't the mistake of the past because the All-National Social-Democratic Party of Kazakhstan and Democratic Party «Azat» show their interest to the consolidation of their influence among the dominant ethnos of the country. As the result the interethnic harmony is the strong point of the president's and «Nur Otan» politics. Stability and interethnic harmony in present conditions are the end in themselves. More correct and more effective would be the expanded statement of a question — stability and interethnic harmony as the conditions of the real goal — economic, political and culture development.

But these leaders are far from the nation... and are very close to their colleagues from power! As the result we have very bad knowledge to resist different political intrigues and many facts of opposition parties' splits. The uniting initiative has more questions than answers. The multi-party system is real then there are at least two strong political parties. The problem is how to learn to refrain from repetition of past mistakes and not to make the new mistakes.

From the beginning of 1990-s the Kazakh political parties have some clear main features: they were playing the role of «Pressure groups», one-man concentration and big importance of theirs leaders, the absence of the base system — (expression of interests of large social sections). The other characteristics are the instability of party's influence and their short life. These two characteristics are the consequence of the strong role of governmental power. Even for the loyal parties as for example for the Party of the people's unity of Kazakhstan the proximity to the authorities is a big problem to its full-fledged development. So the national political system is characterized by the «marking time» process. The problem of development of political parties, which should become real mediators between society and Government, is not as before resolved.


  1. Критегг

    Не понимаю. Сложно написано