By R. Ravichandran
KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 (Bernama) -- Kazakhstan’s snap Parliamentary election Sunday is set to be another step forward in the ongoing political reforms being carried out by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in the vast Central Asian country rocked by unprecedented and rare protests in January last year.
The election is being held following the constitutional reforms in a national referendum in June 2022, receiving more than 77 per cent voters' support in the country of some 19.3 million people.
The election for the lower chamber of parliament or Mazhilis and local bodies known as Maslikhats will see various major changes in the democratisation process being implemented by Tokayev who had served as foreign and prime minister before assuming office in March 2019 – succeeding long-term leader Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The early parliamentary election, being held about two years after the last election in January 2021, is witnessing some key changes to the electoral process since the first parliamentary election in 1995.
Kazakhstan declared its independence in 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Besides political reforms, the oil and gas exporting country, which is the world’s 9th largest country, is already undergoing various economic and social reforms under Tokayev as he prepares the country for current and future challenges in an uncertain global geopolitical environment.
Seven political parties are contesting in the election, including the ruling Amanat Party (formerly Nur Otan Party) and two new parties.
Some 11.9 million people are eligible to vote, where – for the first time since 2004 – a total of 29 out of 98 members of parliament who will serve a five-year term will be elected in single mandate districts while another 69 will be elected under proportional representation.
Another major move in the political landscape is that the threshold to get seats in the lower chamber has been reduced from seven per cent to five per cent .
In a move to empower youth and women in the political process and decision making as well as the welfare of persons with special needs, election party lists must have a 30-percent quota for these groups.
Nominations for the election were held between January 10 to February 8. For the local bodies election, a total of 3,749 people will be elected throughout the country.
Meanwhile, Kazakhstan ambassador to Malaysia Bulat Sugurbayev said the snap election will further strengthen the political stability of the country and at the same time help the government to focus more on economic reforms and social development.
He said the participation of more youth and women in the political process augurs well for the future of the country.
The ambassador further said that President Tokayev is fully aware of the aspirations of the younger generation to play a more constructive role in the political process and development of the country.
“Of course there are various challenges facing the country, but this election is an important turning point for a better future of Kazakhstan,” Sugurbayev told media during a recent briefing.
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