- The parties, indeed, have very little time on their hands and the timing is not in their favor, as nobody is that much into politics on the New Year Eve. Only Nur Otan voters can be mobilized. We will make a tremendous effort to bring at least 5 million of our voters to the polling stations.
Kazakhstan has a population of more than 16.4 million, which includes an electorate of 9 million. At the previous presidential elections in April voting was conducted at 9,725 polling stations.
- 5 million people represent a bigger half of Kazakhstan's electorate. Such statements may tempt Nur Otan opponents to accuse the party of resorting to administrative resources.
- Using administrative resources may imply two things. First, Nur Otan party has unmatched opportunities, as all heads of regional Nur Otan offices are governors reporting directly to the head of state. You can imagine how extensive could be the governors' influence on expanding the party's size and appeal through enrolling members from state-owned institutions. I admit, Nur Otan has no competition in that regard.
Another implication is "carousel" voting, tampering, ballot stuffing and etc. This aspect is beyond my power to contemplate on, since it is a criminal offence more suitable for a prosecutor to deal with.
I want to note that Kazakhstan has not held a single election without the accusations being thrown at the organizers.
- In July you predicted that in case of an early parliamentary election, two parties would share the mandates with Nur Otan: Ak Zhol, which, you said, would win 15-18% of the votes, and NSDP (National Social Democratic Party - IF-K) with 7-8%. Do you still believe this is how the votes will be split?
- I feel that no party besides Nur Otan will be able to pass the 7% threshold. I would very much like Ak Zhol to win 12-14% of the votes, but I an having doubts the party will be able to make it. Maybe it is still too early to draw conclusions; the election campaign will start on January 16. We will wait and see.
Note: Out of the six parties, which participated in the previous parliamentary election held on August 18, 2007, only Nur Otan passed the 7% election threshold to become represented in the Majilis (lower chamber of parliament of Kazakhstan - IF-K).
Under the legislative amendments adopted in 2009, if only one party manages to pass the 7% threshold, the party gaining the second highest number of votes will get a corresponding number of seats in the parliament. Eight political parties plan to take part in the forthcoming election. The election campaign will begin on December 16.
- In Russia members of the opposition who disagreed with the results of the Duma election have held multiple protest rallies. According to the Russian authorities, the opposition is trying to rock the boat in pursuit of its narrow political agenda. Is such a scenario possible in Kazakhstan?
- In Kazakhstan such a scenario would be extremely difficult to pull off because, unlike United Russia, Nur Otan is a very strong party with a single charismatic leader - Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The situation in Kazakhstan is starkly different from that in Russia where political pluralism has been formed in the recent decades. In 2007 all Kazakhstani propresidential parties - Asar, the Civil Party and the Agrarian Party - merged with the Otan party to form Nur Otan in its current shape. Nur Otan is head and shoulders above competition and therefore I believe this election will take place in a quiet atmosphere.
- The United Russia party has failed to achieve its initial target of winning at least 50% of the votes in the election to the State Duma. What do you think is the reason for the fall in the popularity of Russia's leading party?
- I believe the party that dominates the political landscape should attach a very large importance to the principle of sole leadership. In Kazakhstan there are no doubts or discussions whatsoever as to who will be at the helm of the party and the country - only Nursultan Nazarbayev. Such discipline cements the party and makes it a powerful monolithic organization.
For a whole year in Russia there was a lot of gossip about who would lead the country: acting President Medvedev or acting Prime Minister Putin. I believe this weakened United Russia's organization from the personality standpoint.
The acting president refuses to run for a second term, but at the same time he heads the party list in the Duma election. The Prime Minister runs for President, but at the same times he does not head the party in the Duma election. All of this contributed to the sharp decline in the popularity of the leading Russian political party.
The Russian voters are used to vanguard-type political parties. If United Russia has proclaimed itself as a dominant vanguard-type party, it must have a charismatic leader. Many could reproach me now for what they might see as propaganda of bolshevism, but it would not be a just reproach. This view of a dominant party has deep-seated historic roots and the deviation from this view resulted in United Russia's loss of almost 25% of the votes in this parliamentary election compared to the previous one.
- After the first results of the Duma election were announced, Russian political analysts started to talk about the possibility of Vladimir Putin distancing himself from United Russia. Do you think such a step would make sense?
- I believe that three months before the presidential election it would be a mistake for Putin to distance himself from United Russia. In any case, even in this election, United Russia has proven that it commands the support of one half of the Russian voters. Instead of distancing himself from the party Putin should look for new levers and broaden the party's support base through the creation of a nation-wide People's Front.
From this perspective, the appointment of Stanislav Govorukhin (famous film director - IF-K) as head of Putin's campaign team was a deft PR move. Stanislav Govorukhin is a highly respected and well-known figure in Russia. Who has been appointed to such positions before? Only high-ranking government officials like Oleg Soskovets or Anatoly Chubais (Deputy Prime Ministers under President Boris Yeltsin - IF-K). The appointment of Govorukhin will rally the civil society of Russia around Putin as a presidential candidate.
Russia faces a very tense three months ahead and we, the Kazakhstanis, wish victory in the election struggle to the strongest candidate who will further cement the Russian-Kazakhstani ties, which are excellent anyway.
- Thank you for the interview!
© 2019 Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency
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