Дата публикации

On August 30, Kazakhstan celebrates Constitution Day

Legal modernization

How was the political life of Kazakhstan affected by recent amendments to the Constitution, and what parallels can be drawn with the constitutional transformation in Belarus?

Last June, Kazakhstan held a referendum on amendments to the Constitution. The reforms transformed the country and laid the foundation for new democratic principles in the state. For example, Parliament and local authorities were given more powers, while presidential powers were limited: the government became more accountable to the people. Further, subject to the updated Constitution, the President of Kazakhstan is now elected for a single term of seven years, with no rights to re-election.

30 августа в Казахстане отмечается День КонституцииBy amending the Constitution, Kazakhstan has created and further enhanced mechanisms for protecting human rights and democracy through increasing the role and status of the Commissioner for Human Rights, the Commissioner for Children's Rights and the Commissioner for the rights of socially vulnerable categories of the population. The Constitutional Court was also recreated to ensure further protection of human rights and freedoms. Citizens of Kazakhstan, including the Prosecutor General and the Commissioner for Human Rights, can now directly apply to the Constitutional Court with an application to declare the norms that, in their opinion, contradict the principles of the Constitution, illegal.

Deputy of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus Sergey Klishevich is sure that such a decision was made based on the requests of society. He draws attention to the fact that Belarus has built an effective system of constitutional law based on the principles of justice and protecting the legitimate rights and interests of citizens:

This mechanism has crystallized throughout the entire period of the formation of the sovereign Republic of Belarus. It has also passed through the crisis stages of its development. Today it cannot be used to destabilize the situation in the country or to paralyze the system of public administration. Therefore, it is an example for many states, including Kazakhstan, since the systems and structure of the Constitutional Court of Kazakhstan, the principle of working with citizens' appeals resemble the Belarusian version.

The possibilities have expanded

The impact of the constitutional amendments was especially noticeable during the parliamentary and local elections that took place in March. Simplification of the registration process of political parties led to the emergence of new parties — "Republic" and "Baytaq", which took part in the elections. These elections, according to many experts, were the most competitive in the modern history of Kazakhstan. Subject to the constitutional amendments, for the first time since 2004, a proportional-majority model was applied in parliamentary elections. This allowed numerous self-nominated candidates to participate in the elections in single-mandate constituencies along with party candidates. As a result, opportunities for citizens to participate in the political life of the country have significantly expanded. Six parties managed to overcome the five percent barrier required to enter parliament, which created a truly multiparty representative body with different political views.

Reforms and events in the context of transformations in Kazakhstan are important for clarifying the course of development of Kazakh society, Oleg Leshenyuk, Director of the Center for International Studies of the Faculty of International Relations of the Belarusian State University emphasizes:

— The 21st century as never before raises the issues of sustainable development, preservation of statehood, protection of sovereignty and security both in Central Asia and throughout the world. In the light of digitalization and informatization of all spheres of society, countries and regions of the world, including Kazakhstan, are subject to information impact in order to ideologize mass consciousness in an anti-state channel, destabilize and subordinate the political will of the state.

The political scientist notes that Kazakhstan faced attempts to influence from the outside at the beginning of last year: a distorted understanding of democracy was promoted, prerequisites for a coup were created.

— Nevertheless, the promptness of the state's response made it possible to retain unity and launch a set of reforms. Ensuring the security and development of Kazakhstan through reforms, political and constitutional transformations is a step towards a new strong and prosperous nation. Innovations imply a qualitative modernization of all institutions of the country: changing approaches to public administration, personnel policy. The development of a key political institution of the country — a "Just State" based on the concept of a "Hearing State", as well as involving citizens and civil society institutions in the process of reforms and governance of the country in the interests of raising the efficiency of the functioning of the state and its bodies, improving the living standard of the population. They also imply reliance on programs for the formation of global citizenship through education and upbringing of young people,” – Oleg Leshenyuk said.

Own way of development

Kazakhstan has already made numerous amendments to the Constitution, adopted new bills based on which it is building a strong stable political system, forming an independent and prosperous nation. Therefore, the reforms are timely, fully in line with the spirit of the times and will enable Kazakhstan to occupy a dominant position in Central Asia.

Anatoly Boyashov, analyst at the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Research, emphasizes: the constitutional amendments in Kazakhstan were aimed at strengthening the system of checks and balances and increasing the connectivity of the decision-making center and the local level of government.

— Maintaining order has become the basis for the further development of the country's political system. This seems to be an analogy both with the reforms of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus and with the adoption of constitutional amendments in other countries,” – the expert notes.

He draws attention to the fact that constitutions are being adapted to create a space for competition within the framework of national legislation, and not the extraterritorial application of norms of other States:

— In the world, with rare exceptions, there is not a single Constitution in the original version. Over the past 30 years, about 100 countries have implemented constitutional reforms, and about 60 have adopted new constitutions. In my opinion, the young team of the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev feels the pulse of society and responds to its expectations. The society responded to the constitutional reform with high mobilization, which provided a foundation for further development.

Kazakhstan, Belarus and in general many states in the world need to follow their own path, including in state construction, the analyst emphasizes:

— The most promising in this sense is developing direct forms of democracy, people's councils, assemblies, assemblies and kurultais of citizens. This is the way that can prevent the establishment of external control over development. An example of this is the reforms of the 1990s, when business controlled the actions of states, concentrating on the export of raw materials and condemning the population to cheap wage labor and poor quality of social services.”