Challenges to democracy

  • Consolidation of power in the executive branch of government as presidential powers remain unchecked. The Leader of the Nation enjoys unregulated term limits and immunity from prosecution. The president exercises complete control over almost all national and local government appointees. Consequently, President Nazarbayev’s Nur Otan party pervades all levels and branches of governance in Kazakhstan.
  • The government tightly controls the country’s media outlets.
  • The electoral process remains wholly undemocratic, with no legitimate opposition or competition to the ruling Nur Otan party.
  • The government heavily regulates civil society groups in Kazakhstan. This includes NGOs, religious groups, and businesses, whose independent operation is restricted and closely monitored. Law requires that public assemblies gain government approval, but in practice, permission is only granted to pro-government groups. The government is known to violently suppress unapproved public assemblies.
  • The president exercises indirect control over both the judicial and legislative branches, as these bodies are made up of individuals reliant on Nazarbayev’s patronage and loyal to the regime.
  • Corruption remains a significant issue in Kazakhstan. Executive, legislative, and judicial decisions are based in protection and benefit of the elite rather than on justice and fairness.
  • The rise of violent extremism threatens stability in Kazakhstan. For example, there were four suicide bombings in Kazakhstan in 2001. These took Place in the cities of Atrau, Aktoba, and Taraz. The Jund al-Khilafah group claimed responsibility for some of these incidents. The most recent event in November 2011 claimed seven lives, including five police.