PRESIDENT NAZARBAYEV PROPOSES RADICAL REFORMS
TO KAZAKHSTAN’S POLITICAL SYSTEM
On 16 May 2007 Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, introduced to both Chambers of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan a draft Law on Amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The draft Law contains some serious constitutional amendments that will radically change the political system.
Among those changes the following should be outlined – strengthening the role of Parliament, increasing the number of Parliamentarians by 30%, adhering to the principles of parliamentary majority while reforming the Government, and introducing proportional election system of representatives to the Lower House of the Parliament (Majilis).
The major change lies within transformation of the republic’s model from presidential to presidential-parliamentarian through strengthening the Parliament powers and increasing the Parliamentarians corpus. The Head of State suggested increasing the number of Majilis Parliamentarians up to 107: out of those 98 Parliamentarians will be elected according to the proportional system, and 9 Parliamentarians will represent the Assembly of Nations of Kazakhstan. It is also suggested to increase the number of Parliamentarians in the Senate (Upper House) by increasing the presidential quota that will be changed from 7 up to 15 Parliamentarians. The total number of the Members of the Parliament increased by 38 and will be 154.
Presenting constitutional reforms, President Nazarbayev suggested lawmakers to re-consider the Parliamentarian election system for proportional, representative system to address the will of 15-million multi-ethnic population and other specifics of Kazakhstan.
It is suggested to transfer to elections of Majilis Parliamentarians according to the proportional election system that will ensure balanced representation and reflect the specific features of the country. The new form of elections will offer political parties additional opportunities for strengthening their role in the political system of the country, and will reflect the real status of political forces and the will of the voters.
It is proposed to retract the presidential tenure from 7 to 5 years and elect regional governors with the appropriation of maslikhats (local representative bodies). Suggestions were also made on further development of local governance through expanding the mandate of maslikhats (local representative bodies), which will serve five years, as opposed to current four.
Apart from the reforms in the legislative branch political innovations also entail new procedures on appointing the Prime Minister and forming the entire Government. The Prime Minister has to be appointed by the President upon consultation with fractions of political parties in forming the Government, which will implement the program of the winning party or coalition.
With new initiatives in place a simple majority rather than two thirds of votes will be sufficient for the Lower House of the Parliament to pass a vote of non-confidence to the Government.
In the judicial branch reform, only courts will issue arrest warrants. It was also proposed to abolish actual death penalty and to apply it only on those who committed terrorist acts, which led to casualties and violent crimes during a war.
The Head of the State suggested to waive the constitutional ban on financing public associations from the state budget to further promote development of the non-governmental organizations and developing practical measures to partially finance political parties’ activities.
Political modernization will also provide for increased role of mass media, non-interference to the editorial policies and protection of journalists’ rights.
These Constitutional amendments thus mark the new page in Kazakhstan’s political development.