Stress test for Tokaev
Yesterday, a year passed since Nursultan Nazarbayev announced his resignation from the post of president of Kazakhstan, appointing Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev as successor to the chairman of the Senate of the Parliament. Experts believe that Tokaev’s first year was a stress test for stability: the transit of power is already fraught with a situation of uncertainty, but the new head of state had to deal with a network of unpredictable and dramatic events that fall under the definition of “black swans”.
Kazakhstan was the first country in Central Asia where the change of power took place in full accordance with the Constitution. After 30 years of rule, Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned, transferring the powers of the president to Senate speaker Kasym-Zhomart Tokaev. He himself left the post of life-long chairman of the Security Council - the body that monitors the observance of the national interests of Kazakhstan, the Nur Otan party of power, whose members implement all the economic and political reforms of the country, and the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan, which is responsible for international agreement in Kazakhstan. Even the first president has the title of Elbasy - the leader of the nation, which is more significant under the Constitution than the president. This allows Nazarbayev to keep his finger on the pulse of the state and control the president. In the country and abroad, the transit of power in Kazakhstan is considered incomplete.
Nazarbayev’s departure resembles a common saying: "The British leave without saying goodbye, and the Kazakhs say goodbye, but do not leave." So Nursultan Nazarbayev, having left the post of head of state, fully retained all the political, economic and power levers of government.
"The model of the political system of Kazakhstan, which was initiated by the first president Nursultan Nazarbayev, was successful. It passed a gradual constitutional reform, smooth political transit, transfer of power to another generation of politicians, and Kazakhstan did not fall apart, remained a stable, dynamically developing country. Nazarbayev solved the same problem that and General de Gaulle in creating sustainable institutions of power, "Yuri Solozobov, director of international projects at the Institute for National Strategy of the Russian Federation, told Vestnik Kavkaza.
According to the expert, the resignation of Nazarbayev showed which institutions are well-functioning, which were decorative and were in the aura of Nazarbayev’s charisma. For example, the Assembly of the Peoples of Kazakhstan (ANC) turned out to be weak in the recent ethnic conflict in the south of Kazakhstan with the Dungans. "The ANC as an institution was initiated by the president and built into the parliamentary system of the republic. It had the opportunity to become the immune system of Kazakhstan, by working to prevent and prevent ethnic exacerbations. But this did not happen. The ANC preferred a more comfortable regime of the House of Culture, and festivals of friendship of peoples - indicative, bright parades of costumes, "said Solozobov.
The expert believes that over the year, the Kazakhstan model of continuity has proven viability. The model of governance in Kazakhstan has changed. The country was transferred from manual control to automatic mode. Tokaev ensured a smooth transition of power and its international legitimization. He is a diplomat, known to all international centers of power, and here his candidacy did not cause any difficulties. Tokaev showed that he is a mature politician, competent, capable of certain reforms that have matured in Kazakhstan. But, according to the expert, Tokaev will have to work on establishing managerial and economic balance.
"The president has created a new structure - the National Council of Public Confidence (NNOD). Trust is the main element that connects the population with the political community. And here Tokayev appeared as the president of political reforms," said Yuri Solozobov.
According to the expert, the external background is not the most successful for President Tokayev. All year he had to deal with one crisis or another: rallies of mothers with many children and the opposition, explosions of ammunition depots in Arys, conflicts in Kordai, falling oil prices and demand for raw materials. The industrial collapse in China breaks many consumer chains, this reduces the living standards of the population. Unprecedented measures are being taken to counter the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. And here we see that Kazakhstan proved to be one of the best in the post-Soviet space, a coronavirus memo was promptly introduced, the entire medical system was mobilized, an emergency mode was introduced in the largest million-plus cities.
It is these circumstances that caused Tokaev’s anti-crisis decree on giving the president super powers and strengthening his position. Experts explain the direct presidential leadership by the upcoming package of "decisive and sometimes radical reforms," which Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev announced as the "New Economic Course."
Yuri Solozobov believes that the transition period usually takes several years. Cleansing work is necessary to eliminate the old guardsmen and honored people in the system of power. The second is the arrival of a new generation in politics. And there was hope for an early parliamentary election to renew the political elite of Kazakhstan. I think that this task will still be solved and it will take another two or three years for the transition period. Nazarbayev, however, remains in the current configuration as a republican monarch.
Valery Surganov, editor-in-chief of the Vedomosti Kazakhstan portal, also believes that the first year of Tokayev’s presidency was not easy. "In addition to the fact that the transit of power is already fraught with a situation of uncertainty and some nervousness, the incumbent president had to deal with a whole network of unpredictable and dramatic events that fall under the definition of" black swans "- a technological disaster in Arys that occurred two weeks after the presidential election , inter-ethnic clashes in Kordai at the beginning of this year, the collapse of oil prices, the devaluation of the national currency and the epidemic of COVID-19. However, President Tokaev passed the tests with honor and passes demonstrating in his reaction to them the practical implementation of the concept of the “hearing state”: having left on an emergency basis in Arys, he introduced emergency (in the opinion of some, excessive) measures to combat the global pandemic COVID-19. At the same time, he consistently pursues his agenda, " - said "Vestnik Kavkaza" Surganov.
According to the expert, it is noteworthy that at the Tokayev Agenda Center there are changes along the lines of the state – society relationship and a clear idea that effective economic reforms are impossible without political modernization. The state has really become more “hearing” - people with a reputation of non-conformists and opponents of the government are invited to dialogue with the authorities at venues such as the NSOD. The taboo from rally activity is gradually being removed - the procedure for holding rallies is proposed to be transferred from permitting to notification. The possibility of liberalizing party legislation in terms of lowering the threshold for registering political parties is being considered. A decision was made on the parole of the former head of Kazatomprom Mukhtar Dzhakishev, who is considered a political prisoner in a liberal environment. These steps are supported by measures of social support for socially vulnerable groups of the population - large, poor, state employees. Targeted social assistance was increased, a credit amnesty was held, tax holidays for small and micro businesses were announced, salaries of state employees were increased, etc.
"This transforms the image of the Kazakh government, it appears as more democratic, tolerant of dissent, while noticeably" fieldless ", social democratic. Surely, this causes some misunderstanding on the part of the conservative elite and the state apparatus. As a result, tension arises, visible manifestations which becomes a drain of incriminating evidence and scandals on social networks, the thesis of the alleged dual power, various rumors and conjectures, etc. And this is another test for the incumbent president. As a matter of fact, the outcome of the first year of Tokayev’s presidency can be called the formation of his own agenda - if it continues to move forward, Kazakhstan will face deep systemic changes, ”Valery Surganov said.