Tokayev - President, Nazarbayev lifelong and permanent leader of the nation

Tokayev - President, Nazarbayev lifelong and permanent leader of the nation

The chairman of the Senate of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, took the oath and became president for the period before the election and inauguration of the new president. His first initiatives were the renaming of the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, to Nursultan, as well as the erection of a monument in honor of the first president of Kazakhstan in the capital of the republic. Dariga Nazarbayeva was appointed to the post of the speaker of the Senate.

“I consider it necessary to perpetuate the name of our great contemporary, the first president of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev. Our capital must bear the name of our president and be called Nursultan”. Also, Tokayev honored Nazarbayev with the Golden Star and the title of People’s Hero. He also announced the need to give the first president the status of an honorary senator. All the vital activities of Elbasy will be carried out in accordance with the law "On the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan." He remains the father of the people.

Tokayev is a professional diplomat. In 1994-1999 and in 2002-2007, he headed the Foreign Ministry, and in 2011-2013 he was Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. According to the Constitution of Kazakhstan, Tokayev will be not the acting but a full-fledged president of the country until the next elections to be held in the spring of 2020. The only formal restriction related to his status is that he cannot initiate amendments to the Constitution before being elected.

In practice, Tokayev’s authority will be limited by the need to constantly consult with his predecessor, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who voluntarily resigned.

As the Deputy Director of the Center for Strategic Estimates and Forecasts, Igor Pankretenko, told Vestnik Kavkaz, it is reasonable to name the resignation the “so-called” resignation, since Nursultan Nazarbayev fully retained all political, economic and power levers required to govern Kazakhstan. Therefore, it is more correct to speak not about the resignation, but about the transition of Nursultan Abishevich to a new quality - the lifelong and permanent leader of the nation. There is no one who can compete with him.

The constitutional reform of recent years was designed to ensure the early departure of Nazarbayev from the presidency without losing influence. In 2017, Nazarbayev significantly reduced the powers of the president and made the government accountable to parliament. But these norms will take effect only when the next president comes to power.

”This is the classic (after Chinese Deng Xiaoping and Singaporean Lee Kuan Yew) scenario: the de facto leader of the country retains all the levers of power and implements the large-scale modernization programs - which Nazarbayev explicitly stated in his" farewell "speech - but at the same time gets rid of unwanted political burdens. For example, the direct responsibility for the economic results of the transformations and the social problems that accompany them at first,” Pankretenko said. In addition, as the expert noted, with his decision, Nazarbayev launches the process of competition within the elites - “you were so eager to get power, well, prove that you deserve it”. At the same time, he himself remains “above the fray”, reserving the opportunity to correct the results of this competitive struggle in the right direction.

"It is possible to congratulate both Kazakhstan and Nursultan Abishevich personally on the fact that with his powerful pre-New Year - on the eve of Novruz - move, he managed, if not completely eliminate, then to a great extent stop the threats that are inevitable with such a complex and delicate operation as the transit of power. Reserving the lion’s share of key authority as the Leader of the Nation, Elbasy does everything to ensure that the notorious transit takes place with the predictable consequences for the country and the elites, as well as ensuring continuity of policy in Kazakhstan ", the expert said.

Political analyst Arkady Dubnov believes that the power scheme used in Kazakhstan is the most stable of all that can be offered today throughout the CIS countries. In Central Asia, it is a precedent of constitutional transfer of power. Power is transferred by the Constitution, to the second person in the state, the chairman of the Senate. Another thing is that the supreme referee in the person of Nazarbayev remains, and this is perceived rather positively because he is the guarantor of stability. This is  Asia anyway. No shocks should be expected in the country, Dubnov said. Tokayev is a skilled figure in the Kazakhstani political field and also an Eastern politician.