Interim report of Mission of Observers from CIS on progress of monitoring preparation of early elections of deputies of Majilis of Parliament of Republic of Kazakhstan (10/03/2023)
10th of March, 2023
of the Mission of Observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States
on the progress of monitoring the preparation of early elections
of deputies of the Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan
(February 27 – March 10, 2023)
At the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Mission of Observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States (hereinafter referred to as the Mission) monitors the preparation and conduct of early elections of deputies of the Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan (hereinafter referred to as the Mazhilis).
The mission began monitoring the parliamentary elections on February 27, 2023, and carries out its functions freely and independently, observing the legislation of the host country, without interfering in the course of elections and in the internal affairs of the state.
As of March 10, 2023, documents have been submitted for accreditation of 193 observers representing the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Belarus, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the CIS Member States, the Parliamentary Assembly of the CSTO, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Belarus and Russia, CIS Executive Committee.
Head of the Mission, First Deputy Secretary General of the CIS L. Anfimov discussed the preparation and conduct of the elections with the Chairman of the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Kazakhstan N. Abdirov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs R. Vasilenko, Chairman of the Judicial Collegium for Administrative Cases of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan A. Tukiev, Deputy Prosecutor General of the Republic of Kazakhstan Zh. Umiraliev, and. O. Chairman of the Committee of the Administrative Police of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan K. Sultanbaev.
Long-term observers from the CIS held meetings with the leadership of the campaign headquarters of all political parties participating in the elections.
The mission works openly and publicly. The Mission Headquarters issues news reports and gives interviews to the media.
The President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, in his Address “New Kazakhstan: the path of renewal and modernization” on March 16, 2022, presented a program for the comprehensive modernization of the country’s political system, the main principle of which is “a strong President – an influential Parliament – an accountable Government”.
As part of the implementation of this program, a constitutional referendum was held, at which a new electoral system was approved. On its basis, all the main state institutions of the republic are being updated. In November 2022, extraordinary presidential elections were held, in January 2023 the composition of the Senate of the Parliament was updated.
At the end of the process of restructuring the state system of power, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, by Decree No. 104 dated January 19, 2023, dissolved the Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan and scheduled extraordinary elections of deputies of the Majilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan for March 19, 2023.
Legislative framework for holding elections
The legal basis for holding elections to the Mazhilis of the Parliament is the Constitution and the Constitutional Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Elections in the Republic of Kazakhstan” (hereinafter referred to as the Constitutional Law), resolutions of the Central Election Commission (hereinafter referred to as the Central Commission, CEC) and the norms of other legal acts regulating certain issues related to the preparation and conduct of elections, as well as relevant international legal acts to which Kazakhstan is a party, including the Convention on Standards for Democratic Elections, Electoral Rights and Freedoms in the Member States of the Commonwealth of Independent States dated October 7, 2002.
The new procedure for the formation of the Majilis and its election was determined as a result of the republican referendum held on June 5, 2022 on introducing amendments and additions to the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In view of the abolition of the quota of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan in the Mazhilis of the Parliament, the number of deputies of the Mazhilis has been reduced from 107 to 98. The law adopted at the referendum also provides for the election of deputies of the Mazhilis according to a mixed electoral system: according to the system of proportional representation in the territory of a single nationwide constituency, as well as in single-seat territorial constituencies (hereinafter referred to as the constituency).
Also, since the 2021 elections to the Majilis of the Parliament, numerous changes have been made to the electoral legislation by the constitutional laws of May 24, 2021 “On Amendments and Additions to the Constitutional Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Elections in the Republic of Kazakhstan”, of February 7, 2022 “On Introducing amendments and additions to some constitutional laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan”, dated November 5, 2022 “On amendments and additions to some constitutional laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the implementation of the Message of the Head of State dated March 16, 2022.
Experts from the Mission Headquarters and the International Institute for Monitoring the Development of Democracy, Parliamentarism and Observance of the Electoral Rights of Citizens of the IPA CIS Member States are completing their analysis of the electoral legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The mission will present its opinion on the electoral legislation after voting day in the final document.
Electoral commissions and their activities
The preparation and conduct of extraordinary elections of deputies of the Mazhilis are carried out by the Central Commission, 240 territorial election commissions (hereinafter referred to as territorial commissions, TECs), 29 district commissions and 10,300 precinct election commissions (hereinafter referred to as precinct commissions), including 77 foreign ones formed in 62 states .
Elections of deputies of the Majilis under a proportional system based on party lists are carried out by territorial commissions in a single nationwide constituency
To conduct elections of deputies of the Mazhilis by the majoritarian system, the Central Commission formed 29 electoral districts and 16 district commissions. In 13 cases, when the boundaries of districts coincided with the boundaries of administrative territorial units, the functions of district commissions are carried out by territorial commissions.
The CEC heads the unified system of election commissions, is a permanent body and consists of the Chairman and six members. The President and two members of the Central Commission are appointed by the President, two members are appointed by the Senate and the Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The order of formation and the legal status of the Central, territorial, district and precinct commissions are determined by the Constitutional Law. Their term of office is five years.
Territorial commissions with 7 members and district commissions with 5 members are formed by the Central Commission, and precinct commissions by TECs. The number of members of precinct commissions is determined by territorial commissions in the range of 5 to 11 members, depending on the number of citizens in the precinct who have the right to participate in elections.
Members of territorial, district and precinct commissions are elected by maslikhats on the basis of proposals from political parties. Each party has the right to submit one candidate to the respective commission. In the absence of proposals from political parties, maslikhats elect members of the commission at the proposal of other public associations and higher commissions.
The chairman, members of the Central Election Commission, employees of its apparatus, chairmen, their deputies, secretaries, members of regional, cities of republican significance and the capital of territorial election commissions, as well as chairmen, deputies and secretaries of other territorial election commissions, exercise their powers on a professional permanent basis.
The current composition of the territorial and precinct commissions was formed by maslikhats in January 2019, district commissions – in January 2023.
Information about the composition and location of territorial, district and precinct commissions is published in the media.
The CEC is working on the organization of the electoral process in a timely manner.
The Central Commission approved the Calendar plan of the main events for the preparation and holding of extraordinary elections of deputies of the Mazhilis, adopted a number of resolutions relating to certain issues of the election campaign.
The educational and methodological complexes developed by the CEC on the preparation and conduct of elections contain the necessary explanations of the legislation, samples of election documentation.
Training of election organizers is carried out in accordance with the Plan for organizing training for members of election commissions and other participants in the electoral process at early elections of deputies of the Mazhilis of the Parliament and maslikhats of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The Central Commission considers topical issues of the electoral campaign in the mode of video-conferencing with territorial and district commissions. Training seminars-meetings are also organized and held for them, the practical part of which is business games that simulate election day. At the same time, the main problem situations that may arise at polling stations on voting day are discussed in detail, and ways to solve them are explained.
A training film about the work of election organizers on voting day was shot for precinct commissions.
Members of territorial, district and precinct commissions undergo distance learning and testing through the Internet resource of the CEC on the module “Elections of deputies of the Majilis of the Parliament and maslikhats of the Republic of Kazakhstan”.
In addition to training members of election commissions, the Central Commission conducts seminars for other participants in the electoral process – representatives of the campaign headquarters of political parties, law enforcement officers and regional call centers, representatives of the media, public associations and other non-profit organizations accredited as observers.
Representatives of the Mission take part in the meetings of the Central Commission and state that its work is based on the principles of collegiality. Meetings are held openly and publicly in Kazakh and Russian languages both offline and online and broadcast live on the Internet resource and YouTube channel of the Central Commission, provided with sign language translation. They are attended by representatives of the media, political parties, government bodies.
At the briefings held after each meeting, its participants can receive clarifications from CEC members and representatives of state bodies on the decisions made and other issues related to the election campaign.
Lists of citizens eligible to participate in elections (hereinafter referred to as lists) were compiled by local executive bodies on the basis of the state database.
The lists include citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan who have reached the age of eighteen, with the exception of those recognized as incompetent or held in places of deprivation of liberty by a court verdict.
Each citizen also has the right to independently register for inclusion in the list in the relevant local executive body from the moment the elections are called.
The basis for including a citizen in the list at a particular polling station is the fact of his registration at the place of residence on the territory of this polling station. The exception is the lists for the sites formed at the location of military units, student dormitories, as well as in places of temporary residence.
In order to ensure the right to participate in elections, the legislation provides for the possibility of a citizen applying to the local executive body with an application for inclusion in the list at a place of residence other than the place of registration, if the citizen became aware of the impossibility of voting at the place of registration no later than thirty days before elections.
The lists of citizens for each precinct were submitted by the heads of local executive bodies to the precinct commissions 20 days before the start of voting.
In total, according to the information of the Central Commission, 12,032,550 people were included in the lists of citizens eligible to participate in elections.
After receiving the lists, the territorial commissions carry out their reconciliation to identify cases of repeated inclusion of individual citizens in the relevant administrative-territorial units, and the Central Commission – in the whole republic.
Lists of citizens by precincts formed at the place of residence are presented for review and verification of the correctness of the data entered in them at the premises of precinct commissions within the time limits established by law – from March 4, 2023.
Each citizen has the right to appeal against non-inclusion (incorrect inclusion) in the list or exclusion from it, as well as inaccuracies in personal data by filing an application with the relevant precinct commission.
Citizens who have changed their place of residence after the lists have been submitted for public review may vote by absentee ballot. Absentee ballots for the right to vote are issued to citizens at their request by precinct commissions from March 4 to 18:00 on March 18, 2023.
Nomination of candidates for deputies of the
Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan and their registration
The election campaign is taking place against the backdrop of the liberalization of conditions for party building.
The latest amendments made to the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Political Parties” in November 2022 provide for the possibility of registering a party if it already has not twenty, but five thousand members. At the same time, the mandatory number of its members in each region, cities of republican significance and the capital has been reduced from six hundred to two hundred people.
Taking into account the introduction of these changes, the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the eve of the elections registered two new political parties, the Kazakhstani Green Party Baitak and the Respublica Party, bringing their total number to seven.
All registered parties took part in the election campaign.
In accordance with the requirements of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Constitutional Law, a citizen of the republic not younger than 25 years of age, who has voting rights and has permanently resided on its territory for the last ten years, may be elected as a deputy.
The right to nominate candidates for deputies of the Mazhilis, elected according to party lists, belongs to political parties, and in constituencies – to political parties, public associations, their structural divisions, as well as citizens through self-nomination.
The nomination and self-nomination of candidates for deputies of the Mazhilis of the Parliament began sixty days before the voting day.
By the deadline, all political parties submitted the documents required for registration. A total of 283 candidates were nominated on party lists.
609 candidates were nominated in 29 single-mandate territorial districts. Including 79 – from 7 political parties, 5 – from four public associations, 525 – by self-nomination.
In accordance with the law, registration of party lists submitted by political parties was carried out by the Central Commission, candidates for constituencies – by district commissions. Registration ended on February 18, 2023.
As a result of checking the fulfillment of the requirements imposed by the legislation, the Central Commission registered party lists of candidates for deputies of the Mazhilis of all seven parties in the amount of 281 people. Two candidates from the Respublica party were expelled according to their applications. At the same time, the 30% representation of women, youth and persons with disabilities established by law was observed by each political party.
District commissions registered 435 candidates in single-seat territorial constituencies. 45 candidates were withdrawn from registration on the basis of personal statements, 125 were denied registration. Registration of 4 candidates has been cancelled.
In accordance with the legislation, based on the results of the lottery, the names of political parties were entered on the ballot for voting for political parties in the following sequence:
1. Party “Amanat”;
2. People’s Democratic Patriotic Party “Auyl”;
4. People’s Party of Kazakhstan;
5 Kazakhstan Green Party “Baytak”;
6. Democratic Party of Kazakhstan “Ak Zhol”;
7. National Social Democratic Party.
Candidates were included on the ballot by constituency in alphabetical order.
and Campaign Coverage
The election campaign began at 18:00 on February 18 and will last until 00:00 on March 18, 2023.
On the closing day of registration, representatives of six political parties participating in the elections to the Majilis (with the exception of the National Social Democratic Party) signed a Memorandum for fair elections. The document consolidated the intentions of all parties that signed it to act within the framework of the electoral legislation, not to disseminate information that discredits the honor, dignity and business reputation of each other and their candidates.
In accordance with the Constitutional Law, election campaigning is carried out in four ways:
1. Through the media;
2. By holding public pre-election events, as well as personal meetings of candidates and their proxies with voters;
3. By issuing and distributing printed, audiovisual and other campaign materials;
4. Through online platforms.
Considering the widespread use of Internet resources during the campaign, the latest amendments to the Constitutional Law extended the requirements for the media to online platforms.
465 print and electronic media and 40 users of online platforms of the Republic of Kazakhstan announced their intention to cover the course of the election campaign. They published and submitted to the CEC information on the amount of payment, the conditions and procedure for providing airtime and print space.
To conduct election campaigning, candidates for deputies of the Mazhilis at the expense of personal funds, funds of political parties, voluntary donations from citizens and organizations of Kazakhstan created election funds.
At the same time, the Constitutional Law provides for the financing of individual campaign events of candidates at the expense of the republican budget. Thus, candidates in constituencies, in the amount of funds provided by the Central Commission, were provided with coverage of expenses for speaking with a program on television and radio, publishing two articles in print or online periodicals, holding public election events, publishing campaign materials and transportation costs.
A significant part of the campaign work was carried out by political parties and candidates through various Internet platforms, social networks, and other information and communication tools.
Local executive bodies, together with territorial commissions, on equal terms and on a contractual basis, provided 3828 premises for meetings with voters.
Dealing with complaints and statements
Within the framework of monitoring the election campaign, the mission interacts with the bodies whose competence includes consideration of complaints and allegations of violations of the referendum legislation.
The Mission Headquarters appealed to the Central Electoral Commission, the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan with a request to inform about the results of consideration of citizens’ appeals received by them related to violations of the electoral process. After studying and summarizing the responses, relevant information will be given in the final statement of the Mission.
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© Advocatetanmoy Law Library