New Kazakhstan and the Second Republic explained
31 March 2022 13:04

New Kazakhstan and the Second Republic explained

NUR-SULTAN. KAZINFORM - The state-of-the-nation address delivered by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on March 16 has vowed significant political reforms under the New Kazakhstan agenda. While congratulating people on the Nauryz holiday in Almaty, President Tokayev used the concept of the Second Republic in his remarks. More about what these two concepts envision is in the latest article of Kazinform.

The New Kazakhstan agenda was first introduced by Tokayev to describe what he sees as the future for Kazakhstan - «the country of new opportunities and progress» - with sweeping political reforms that the country had to step up after the tragic January events. Among the major political reforms announced in the address were limiting presidential powers, giving more powers to the Parliament, expanding the role of local government, and creating new regions.

«New Kazakhstan is not an abstract idea, but a clear image of the future,» said Tokayev at the state awards ceremony in the Akorda presidential residence on March 18.

Another term that he used to describe his vision of the country’s future when addressing the Almaty city residents on the Nauryz holiday was the Second Republic. «Some experts are wondering what is meant by this concept and how it relates to the previously announced concept of New Kazakhstan,« Secretary of State Erlan Karin said.

According to Karin, though common in the essence, the two concepts have different focuses.

»New Kazakhstan is an image of the future of our country as a whole. And above all, we are talking about the need to update social values and the formation of a new quality of the nation. Correspondingly it doesn't mean that we at once, after the January events or after the message, started to live in New Kazakhstan. Putting forward the concept of New Kazakhstan, the President has outlined a new goal of nation-building for the near future. Building New Kazakhstan is impossible in an instant or overnight. This is a deep and long process of social transformation,» Karin noted.

The concept of the Second Republic, in turn, focuses on the ambitious reforms to change the political system, particularly expanding the participation of citizens in the governance of the state and the formation of a new political culture.

«First and foremost, this concerns his initiative to permanently transition from a super-presidential form of government to a presidential republic with a strong parliament,» said Karin. «In other words, the New Kazakhstan is a renewal of society and the nation, and the Second Republic is a renewal of the state model.«

He went on to say that the implementation of the presidential address will require amendments to more than 30 articles of the Constitution and 20 laws. «In general, we can speak not only about the beginning of a change in the model of state administration but also about a change in the paradigm of state and social development,» said Karin.

What do foreign experts say?

On March 22, the Kazakh Institute of Strategic Studies under the President of Kazakhstan convened local and foreign experts to discuss the address and the proposed reforms.

At the beginning of the session, Yerkin Tukumov, director of the institute, noted that without political modernization, neither effective economic development, the construction of civil society, nor the preservation of the nation’s sovereignty and independence is possible.

Most foreign experts have agreed on the decisiveness of President Tokayev and the timeliness of the reforms but some said there was no other choice but to announce these reforms.

According to Jerzy Olędzki, an expert from the Michał Boym Institute for Asian and Global Studies, the remodeling of the presidential system of power, changes in the electoral system, and assistance in the creation of political parties is a decisive step toward deepening the country's democratization.

Alexei Malashenko, the chief researcher at the Russian Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, noted the decisiveness of President Tokayev and his «sincerity and intelligence which he described to be a «great rarity among politicians.»

«After the January events, he quickly began to implement reforms, although he could have waited and looked around, instead he took a risk and did the right thing. He has matured, and the society has matured too,» he said.

Igor Savin, head of the Department of Central Asia at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, emphasized that the transition to local self-governance and the establishment of three new regions will allow the issues of ethnic minorities to be addressed more effectively. According to him, Kazakhstan has always adhered to the line of non-politicization of ethnicity, preferring to look at ethnicity as one dimension of society's social agenda.

«Kazakhstan's willingness to implement a large-scale program of political reforms is a signal to other states that the country intends to focus on domestic issues. The smooth and gradual nature of the reforms shows the seriousness of the country's leadership. The tone of the address gives confidence that expectations from the reforms will be met,» said the expert.

According to Valdai Club political scientist and expert Farhad Mammadov from Azerbaijan, the lack of alternative reforms is an important element of the whole period of President Tokayev's presidency. The expert noted that by personal example, the President demonstrates where acceleration is needed, where one needs to think, and where a certain time is given.

Article by Assel Satubaldina