For a country less than a week away from a presidential election, it’s awfully quiet in Kazakhstan. According to current President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan is a “paradise,” but Central Asia watchers are skeptical about the lack of competition and lack of policy debate. “There is not much currently being said about the election in Kazakhstan, mostly because there is nothing to say,” Luca Anceschi, a lecturer in Central Asian Studies at the University of Glasgow told The Diplomat. The early election, scheduled for April 26, didn’t come as a surprise. Nazarbayev also arranged early polls in 2011, 2005, and in 1999 (even though a 1995 referendum, shortly before scheduled elections in 1996, extended Nazarbayev’s term as president to 2000). Despite coy statements made in March that “[m]aybe it’s time for a change of scenery,” Nazarbayev chose to stand for election, again.
Kazakhstan’s constitution currently limits a president to two five-year terms. In 2007, terms were shortened from seven to five years by parliament. An additional amendment to the constitution in 2007 exempted Nazarbayev from term limits, effectively paving the way for him to serve as president for life. Such constitutional hijinks are a regular feature of Central Asian elections, particularly in Uzbekistan.
The presidential campaign season kicked off on March 26. Legally, the campaign can only last 30 days and must cease two days before election day. Tatyana Okhlopkova, a member of the Kazakhstan Central Election Commission, laid out the campaign rules in an interview with The Astana Times in early April. She noted that “ensuring voter rights during campaign season is always taken very seriously.”
Full Article: Why Is Kazakhstan Even Having an Election? | The Diplomat.