By Natalia Konarzewska
June 18, 2019, the CACI Analyst
On June 9, 2019, Kazakhstan held snap presidential elections following the resignation of long-term President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Nazarbayev’s close associate and former speaker of the Senate Kassym-Jomart Tokayev won the ballot receiving 70.76 percent of the votes. The election was accompanied by large protests in the country’s capital Nur-Sultan and in Almaty, followed by detentions of hundreds of protesters. It is unlikely that the change of president will bring radical change in Kazakhstan. Tokayev has already declared his commitment to preserving Nazarbayev’s legacy. Multiple developments indicate that preparations for the power shift in Kazakhstan have been ongoing for years, suggesting that the presidential succession was carefully planned and micromanaged from behind the scenes to ensure a smooth transition of power.
By Rafis Abazov
May 23, 2019, the CACI Analyst
The resignation of Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev in spring 2019, after 30 years of uninterrupted stewardship, had an unexpected timing. However, even more unexpected was the Parliament of Kazakhstan’s hastily announced early presidential elections scheduled for June 9, 2019. Even some major political insiders were caught unprepared. Indeed, leading local analyst Sergei Domnin of Expert Magazine wrote that the entire political establishment woke up to find Kazakhstan at a political “crossroad.” Some believe that the elections are just a face change and that the ruling elite will continue to pursue the same policies. Others claim that the elections could lead to the emergence of an “entirely new political model.”
By Natalia Konarzewska
March 22, 2019, the CACI Analyst
In February 2019, Kazakhstan saw a wave of protests triggered by various social and economic grievances. Rallies burst through the country in multiple locations, indicating that popular distress is strong and unlikely to fade soon. In an attempt to placate social discontent, President Nursultan Nazarbayev fired the government, citing its inability to improve living standards and announced his own plan to provide social relief for the families. Kazakhstan’s hydrocarbon-dependent economy is struggling to recover after the 2014 plunge in oil prices and the spillover effects of Western sanctions against its largest trade partner Russia. On March 19, president Nazarbayev announced his immediate resignation after ruling Kazakhstan for thirty years.
By Svante E. Cornell and S. Frederick Starr
December 4, 2018, the CACI Analyst
Central Asian states are embarking on a new effort to build regional cooperation. In March 2019, the second yearly summit of Central Asian leaders will be held in Tashkent. Discussions are under way to provide structure to this newfound regionalism. Central Asians can build on a relatively rich experience of regional cooperation two decades ago, which culminated in the Central Asian Cooperation Organization (CACO). As they take this experience to new levels, they do not need to reinvent the wheel: an overview of other global models of regional cooperation shows how other states in similar situations – particularly Southeast Asian and Nordic countries – have managed to build long-term sustainable regionalism in difficult geopolitical circumstances.
By Rafis Abazov
July 10, 2018, the CACI Analyst
On the eve of the 20th anniversary of moving Kazakhstan’s capital from Almaty to Astana, the country’s government announced that the city of Astana has welcomed its one-millionth resident. Indeed, this was a remarkable achievement for the city, which within just 20 years – between 1997 and 2018 – grew from a population of only 290,000 to more than 1.1 million inhabitants, or more than 300 percent. Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev envisions that the population of Astana could exceed three million by 2050. Therefore, the main question is whether Kazakhstan can sustain this rapid urbanization shift without facing major social and demographic upheaval.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.