|||

Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies

under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Address of the President to the people of Kazakhstan

Third Modernization of Kazakhstan

"Only those nations who manage to set the future goals and proceed resolutely facing the challenges,

instead of sitting on the hedge and waiting, are the winners."

Amidst Profound Transformation

 

KazISS Director Zarema Shaukenova

 

Kazakhstan’s authorities have never pushed for more political change; the policy primarily has always been to enable entire society and its public institutions to mature gradually, becoming increasingly committed to democratic values.

In his recent Address to the Nation, which was focused on the rebalancing of the powers between the branches of government, the President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan voiced the main idea that the current reforms are a new step towards further democratization. Importantly, this is the process conducted in accordance with the principle stipulating that "economic reforms shall proceed political transformation". The principle Kazakhstan has been adhering to since in 2005 when it first was articulated by the President. Since democracy cannot be imposed, but must be nurtured, Kazakhstan is already in a new political dimension when democracy and the values ​​of a free society are not only the aspirations, but also the reality of our life.

According to the KazISS survey conducted in December 2016, introduction of the national currency, adoption of the Constitution at referendum in 1995, establishment of state borders, and a new "Menyn Kazakstanym" national anthem were named the most significant for consolidation of the independent Kazakhstan.

One of the main, among many other achievements of Kazakhstan, is, perhaps, construction of a solid basis for new the middle class (the figure reaches 23%) while in the early 1990s almost 2/3 of the population had the incomes close to the current poverty level. In 1992, the GDP PPP was only 7,4 000 US dollars, by 2016, this figure had reached 25.6 000 dollars.

The number of social networks users increased from 35 to 45% from the mid-2015 to the end of 2016. The range of servers used by Kazakhstan’s people is also expanding now comprising Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and other messengers including Skype. Information wise, Kazakhstan has increased its international exposure considerably and rapidly. The weight of English-language content is growing; about 4% of respondents receive their news from English-language media. For some demographics, this figure is even significantly higher. In total, more than 30% of respondents receive news from social networks. Although, the share was 25% only six months ago.

The polls conducted by the KazISS within the thematic research activities to support the "Kazakhstan-2050" Strategy show that the mould for further political modernization in Kazakhstan has matured: 65% of respondents support further democratic reforms. Higher material wellbeing creates higher demand for reforms. The share of adherents of liberal and democratic values increased from 22% in 2011 to almost 30% in 2015. The share of traditionalists and  conservatives decreased from 23% to16%. These data reveal steadily changing and maturing worldviews of people in Kazakhstan.

As for the branches of power, the majority of the respondents, namely 52%, continue to support the presidential form of government: from 2011 to 2015 the share rose by 9%. Such kind of position is understandable since the presidential form of government is believed to have enabled Kazakhstan not only to overcome the post-Soviet crisis but also the most recent global crises.

Therefore, one may argue that the premise for further political modernization has been established. Thus, the victories in the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2015 and 2016 may be considered as the response to the popular demand for more modernization. These election campaigns demonstrated serious changes in the popular attitude. Younger people those who are, coevals of the independence of Kazakhstan entered the voting age; these people do not have any genetic connection with the past era. For the last 10 years, from 2007 to 2016, the number of voters in the parliamentary elections increased by 1 million. The voters’ turnout increased by almost 2 million, and the "Nur Otan" party increased the number of its supporters by 1.4 million.

That is why the Nur Otan platforms are that important for consolidating of the political forces around the strategic development goals of Kazakhstan until 2050 and for public debate on strengthening of the powers of the Parliament and its auxiliary infrastructure. The Parliament should become an equally powerful player, comparing with the Government, with stronger expert institutions and think tanks. The recent survey showed that respondents supported the measures to strengthen the Parliament’s role in future. In their opinion, the Parliament should become the platform for public and expert debate, the epicenter of law drafting and all-inclusive vigorous discussion on the strategic documents.

In his recent Address to the Nation, the President stresses that the world is changing and the speed and complexity of social processes in Kazakhstan are also increasing. We are entering an important period when the political system evolves alongside the societal change. The external and internal political processes unfold rapidly. January 2017 is a good example of the new achievements of Kazakhstan: the nation become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council; the 28th World Winter Universiade was held in Almaty; the international talks on Syria were conducted in Astana having given some hope for peace in this country.

All these processes occur on the background where there are clear signals that Kazakhstan is being undergone a profound transformation of the entire administrative system and public service.