At stake in this election:
- The office of President of Kazakhstan
Description of government structure:
- Chief of State: President Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev
- Head of Government: Prime Minister Karim Masimov
- Assembly: Kazakhstan has a bicameral Parliament consisting of the Senate with 39 seats and the House of Representatives (Mazhilis) with 107 seats.
Description of electoral system:
- The President is elected by simple majority vote to serve a 5-year term[AB1] [DA2] .*
- The Prime Minister is appointed by the president with the approval of the parliament.
- In the Senate, 7 members are appointed by the president to serve 6-year terms and 32 members are indirectly elected by regional legislatures to serve 6-year terms**. In the House of Representatives (Mazhilis), 98 members are elected through a closed-list proportional representation system to serve 5-year terms and 9 members are appointed to serve 5-year terms***.
* This is a pre-term election. On February 25, 2015 President Nazarbayev, acting within the scope of his presidential authority as guaranteed under the Kazakh Constitution, issued a decree calling for early presidential elections on April 26. Previously the presidential elections had been expected to take place at the end of 2016. The proposal has been justified by the need to avoid the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections in the same year (both scheduled for 2016), which the Constitutional Council has subsequently held would be unconstitutional. This also follows a February 14 request by the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan (APR), a constitutional body, to hold elections just under two years before Nazarbayev's present term finishes in order to tackle the difficult economic situation in the country. Nazarbayev’s party, Nur Otan, called for early presidential elections two days after the APR’s announcement. (http://news.yahoo.com/kazakhstan-president-calls-early-elections-195427153.html). For additional information on the history of this process, see http://www.rferl.org/content/kazakhstan-brief-history-of-presidential-elections/26890276.html and http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/11/kazakhstan-president-early-election-nursultan-nazarbayev
**In the Senate, 7 members are appointed by the president and 32 are indirectly elected by oblast-level government bodies, all to serve 6-year terms.
*** Under Election Law enacted in June 2007, 98 of the 107 Mazhilis deputies are elected via a proportional system. The PR tier is one, nationwide district with a seven percent threshold. The remaining nine deputies are chosen by the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan, an unelected body containing 364 members formed by the President of Kazakhstan.
- Candidates seeking a presidential nomination may either be self-nominated or by a public association, including a political party. Potential candidates must be citizens of Kazakhstan by birth, at least 40 years of age, fluent in the Kazakh language, and possess official resident status in the country for at least 15 years. Any person with a criminal record that has not been expunged, or has been found guilty of corruption-related or administrative crimes cannot stand for office.
- There is a 21-day nomination period ending on March 15th. Following this period, presidential candidates have an additional 10 days to submit at least 93,000 valid supporting signatures, collected from at least 9 out of 14 oblasts (regions) of Kazakhstan, including the two major cities of Astana and Almaty. Moreover, nominees must pay an election deposit of 1,060,000 Kazakhstan Tenge (KZT) and present tax declarations for themselves and their spouse.
- Prospective candidates must also pass a language test which consists of an examination of their reading, writing, and speaking abilities. If a nominee succeeds to fulfill all of the above requirements, and presents a valid signature list to the CEC, he then receives the official accreditation as a presidential candidate, and thus becomes eligible to mount an election campaign beginning on March 26th.
- The presidential system in Kazakhstan is a two-round process. If a candidate receives an absolute majority of votes in the first round, that candidate is elected. If the candidates fail to reach an absolute majority, a second round of voting takes place between the top two candidates within two months of the initial round. The second round is comprised of a plurality voting structure between these candidates. In 2007, a constitutional amendment was enacted establishing a presidential term of five years—a reduction from the previous seven year term, also exempting the incumbent President Nazarbayev from the established limit of two consecutive terms. In 2010, President Nazabayev was grandfathered into the new amendment, providing him with the privileged legal status of Kazakhstan’s "Leader of the Nation", and significant political powers for life. Nazarbayev has been in office since 1991.
Main Candidates in the Presidential race:
- Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev
- Party: Fatherland Party / Nur Otan
- Turghyn Syzydyqov
- Party: Kazakh Communist People's Party
- Abdelghazy Kussainov
- Chairman of the Federation of Kazakh Unions
- The last election for the presidency was held on April 3, 2011. There were 9,200,000 registered voters for the election. Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev won 7,850,958 (95.55%) of votes.
Population and number of registered voters:
- Female Population: 9,357,167 (2014 est.)[vi]
- Is Kazakhstan a signatory to CEDAW: N/A
- Has Kazakhstan ratified CEDAW: Yes (26 August 1998).
- Gender Quota: No
- Female Candidates in this election: 1 (Koyshieva)
- Number of Female Legislators: 29 (25.2%) of 115 seats[vii]
- Human Development Index (HDI) Position: 70 (2014)
- Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) Categorization: Low (2014)
- Is Kazakhstan a signatory to CRPD: Yes (11 December 2008).
- Has Kazakhstan ratified CRPD: No