Kazakhstan remains the only country in the wider region implementing significant reforms that are ushering in a new era of development, after the country’s President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, outlined new socio-economic and political priorities at the opening of the first session of the Parliament of the eight convocations on March 29. It is also the only country in the region providing substantial support to socially vulnerable segments of the population.
Exactly one year has passed since President Tokayev delivered his Address to the Nation, where he put forward a large-scale program of political reforms and modernization. The results of the referendum held last year in the country demonstrated the broad support of the population for the proposed initiatives and constitutional amendments.
The constitutional reform enabled to carry out a complete reset of the political system. Presidential elections were held in November last year, followed by elections to the Senate in January and parliamentary and local election on March 19.
As a result of the reforms, the President of Kazakhstan is now elected for only one term of seven years (previously two five-year terms). The powers and influence of the elected Parliament have been increased. In addition, the Constitutional Court was established, alongside substantial reforms of the judiciary. Initiatives to protect human rights and freedoms have been implemented. Importantly, opportunities for citizens to participate in the political life of the country have significantly expanded, as illustrated by the recently held parliamentary elections, where many of the candidates were independent and self-nominated.
As President Tokayev stated, the reforms are based on the formula “a strong President – an influential Parliament – an accountable Government”, which underlies Kazakhstan’s state structure. He added that a new civil and political culture is being formed in society.
In his speech, President Tokayev raised several important issues that need to be prioritised by the newly elected parliament and the new government, in particular solving urgent economic problems.
Firstly, it is necessary to stimulate business activity by supporting small and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs. It is also important to fully utilize the production potential of our country, in particular exploration and development of mineral deposits.
In addition, it is necessary to reconsider approaches to infrastructural development. In this regard, the President proposed to adopt a National Infrastructure Plan aimed at forming a sustainable infrastructure framework for the country. The issue of food security also requires special attention, according to the President. He also highlighted the need to consistently improve the quality of human capital and to support socially vulnerable categories of citizens. Furthermore, the system of human rights protection should be further strengthened. Finally, it is necessary to improve the efficiency of public administration and the quality of strategic planning.
Ultimately, the President’s speech demonstrates that political changes in Kazakhstan will continue, resulting in further improvement of the political system and governance. The changes will rely on the principles Tokayev outlined previously, including the rule of law, the unity of the people, social justice, and domestic political stability.