Election campaign proceeds smoothly, Central Election Commission says


Election campaign proceeds smoothly, Central Election Commission saysAs the April 3 election nears, the candidates and their campaigns are ramping are their efforts to spread the message and convince voters to choose their standpoint.

Zhambyl Akhmetbekov, Mels Yelleusizov and Gani Kassymov have been criss-crossing the country, seen in Shymkent in the south, Karaganda in the centre, Atyrau in the west and Astana in the north. The incumbent President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has also been busy visiting the country in his official capacity, visiting Shymkent, Aktobe in the west and Almaty in the south-east, the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan informs.

Compared to previous election, the media coverage has been unprecedentedly wide-ranging and balanced, with pictures of all candidates occupying prominent and, more or less, equal places in leading national publications. Their faces stare at people from enormous campaign posters on the streets of all major cities. But that’s not all: across Kazakhstan there is a rolling get-out-the-vote campaign involving prominent individuals and show-biz stars.

The campaign officially began on March 3, after four candidates fulfilled legal requirements, including the collection of signatures of at least one percent of registered voters and passing the Kazakh language test.

The candidates published their political platforms on March 7.

Nursultan Nazarbayev, the incumbent, decided to focus on his day to day work, and announced that his election platform is based on the national development programme for the period until 2020 and his most recent state-of-the-nation address. The platform prioritizes sustainable economic growth, accelerated industrial and innovative development and larger support to small and medium businesses. Nazarbayev also asserted that Kazakhstan will continue to run a responsible and active foreign policy.

Zhambyl Akhmetbekov, the nominee of the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan proposed nationalizing the resource extraction industry – Kazakhstan’s most lucrative – and to redistribute the profits to the public. He promised to remove state control over prices and support medium-sized businesses.

Akhmetbekov, perhaps the first presidential candidate in Kazakhstan’s history, has registered in social networks such as Moi Mir and Twitter. According to Akhmetbekov’s campaign staff, a huge number of incoming messages have come in since the day of his registration online showing people are interested in the election campaign as well as in political views of CPPK. They were also interested in political issues, concerning candidate’s political platform and questioning, more often than not, how communist ideology goes along with the modern realities.

The Kazakh Communists’ reply: communist ideas do not contradict the progressive development of society. After all, a human being, his social role is put at the head of the corner in all developed countries, which is completely in agreement with the communist ideals. Akhmetbekov and his supporters also talk of the need to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, building the state with equal opportunities for all. Their major campaign slogan is: “The people’s voice must be heard.”

The chairman of Environmental Union Tabigat (Nature), Mels Yeleussizov’s programme highlights efforts to develop an environmentally safe country, but also reflects the issues of democracy, economy, and culture. Yeleussizov also opposes the resettlement of villagers to towns. Instead, he says living standards in the countryside and in towns must be leveled, and young people must be encouraged to stay in their home villages with governmental support to farmers. The candidate said he would legalize the priority of environmental matters. Talking about housing and communal services he stresses that there is a need to ban the inclusion of any indirect costs in payment rates for communal services. These rates should be available for the majority of Kazakhstan people.

The leader of the Party of Patriots Gani Kassymov’s election campaign is aimed primarily at improving the political and state structure. The pre-election platform is extensive and covers the political system and all that relates to government institutions, including the Parliament, political parties, and judicial and law enforcement bodies. Kassymov promises to revive collective farms and housing cooperatives.

“The village is a source of our history, spirit, culture and language,” Kassymov says. “The most important problem here is people’s employment, not starting from sowing campaign until the harvesting one, but during the whole year. Without solving this problem it is difficult to talk about developing agricultural perspective projects.”

The campaign in Kazakhstan has attracted serious attention from the international community. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Commonwealth of Independent States and a host of other international organizations have sent long term observers to Kazakhstan to monitor the campaign and will send much larger groups of short term observers to monitor the voting on April 3.

“It is necessary to stress here that in terms of election Kazakhstan proceeds from the basic document of Copenhagen meeting of the 1990 Conference on human dimension of the OSCE. All 56 participating states of the OSCE, including Kazakhstan, agreed to observe its conditions,” Marat Sarsembayev, the member of Central Election Commission, said.

The campaign seems to have stricken a chord with the people. According to various polls, including by the Kazakhstan Institute of Strategic Studies, more than a quarter of registered voters say they will vote on April 3.