Elections in Kazakhstan — lessons for Turkmenistan

Presidential elections were held in Kazakhstan, which were won by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Tokayev managed to bring down a wave of popular protests in January 2022. He abruptly changed his rhetoric, and promised, and carried out some political reforms, however, very half-hearted and incomplete. He promised and partially provided economic benefits. But in general, the regime in Kazakhstan has remained the same, as shown by the past elections.

Tokayev did not meet resistance in the elections because the people of Kazakhstan are confused, and the opposition was greatly divided, including by the efforts of the country’s authorities themselves. Tokayev acted as a single candidate of all parliamentary parties. But the real Kazakh opposition did not have a single candidate and was not allowed to participate in the elections.

This was also noted by the mission of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Assistance in Europe (OSCE/ODIHR): “The early elections of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan on November 20 were held in a political environment devoid of competition, and despite effective preparations, the elections emphasized the need for further reforms to bring the relevant legislation in line with OSCE commitments to ensure genuine pluralism.”

Conclusions for Turkmenistan.

Firstly, one should not give in to hopes for “reforms from above”. No matter what the current government says, in reality, it does not want to change anything, and if it does change something, it starts only with strong pressure from below and tries to “slow down” all initiatives.

Secondly, it is the pressure on the government “from below” that is of key importance – without this, it will do nothing at all. Only the people in the squares will make her move.

Thirdly, the coordination of the actions of the real democratic opposition and its unity, the ability to put forward a single program and candidate in the elections is of the utmost importance.

And, fourthly, we must make every effort to monitor the integrity of the elections, many violations have been revealed in Kazakhstan. Sometimes elections are not the end of the road, but only the beginning. In many cases, it was the violation of the fairness of the elections that caused the change of power. So, for example, it was in Ukraine.