Kazakhstan – Senate election

The Kazakhstan constitution dates back to 1995. In May 2007 a number of major constitutional amendments were adopted. For example, only a simple majority, rather than a two-thirds majority, is now required to bring down the government in a vote of no-confidence, though of course the fact that there are no opposition parties in the parliament renders this latter event rather unlikely at the moment. Also, the president’s term was reduced to five years (after the next election), but term limits were abolished. So, President Nursultan Nazarbayev may end up being president for life. The 1995 constitution is available here. I do not have an English version of the revised constitution, but a resume of the 2007 amendments is available here.

One amendment related to the Senate and yesterday was the first Senate election under the new system. The Senate comprises 47 Senators, 15 of whom (rather than 7 previously) are now chosen by the president and 32 of whom are elected indirectly. Art. 50 (2) states: “The Senate shall be composed of deputies elected in twos from each oblast, major city and the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan, at a joint session of the deputies of all representative bodies of the respectively oblast, major city and the capital of the Republic.” The Senate term is 6 years and half of the elected representatives are elected every three years. so, apart from the presidential nominees, 16 Senators were up for election.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given there is no opposition representation in the lower house, it seems that no opposition members will be either appointed to or elected to the Senate. RFE/RL has two reports, both of which seem to confirm this situation. The last parliamentary elections were held in 2007 (the term is five years), the next presidential election is also scheduled for 2012 (the full 7-year term is being played out and the new 5-year term is being introduced thereafter).

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