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History of presidential elections in Kazakhstan since 1991

Every previous poll had its own history and distinctive features, and certainly played an important role in the democratic development of Kazakhstan.

The first presidential election in 1991 was uncontested as no politician except Nursultan Nazarbayev managed to collect the signatures requested for registration as a candidate. No less than 88 percent of eligible voters showed up for the poll, of which 98.78 percent cast their votes for Nazarbayev.The second presidential election in 1999 was the first competitive election. A total of eight candidates expressed their desire to participate in the race,
however, only four of them passed the official registration: the incumbent President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, General Gani Kassymov, leader of the Communist Party Serikbolsyn Abdildin, and Member of Parliament Engels
Gabbassov. Nazarbayev won that time too, having gained 79.78 percent of the vote. The remaining votes were distributed as follows: Abdildin received 12.08 percent of the vote, Kassymov 4.72 percent, and Gabbassov 0.78 percent.

Kazakhstan’s third presidential election took place on 4 December 2005. The incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Head of the Movement “For Fair Kazakhstan” Zharmakhan Tuyakbay, Chairman of the “Akzhol” (Bright Path) Alikhan Baimenov, Member of Parliament from the People’s Communist Party
Yerassyl Abylkassymov, and the Head of the “Tabigat” (Nature) Environmentalist Union Mels Yeleussizov ran at that time. According to the Central Election Commission (CEC), a total of 76.78 percent of the eligible voters participated in the election. As a result, 91.15 percent voted for Nazarbayev, 6.61 percent for Tuyakbay, 1.61 percent for Baimenov, while 0.34 percent and 0.28 percent of voters chose Abylkassymov and Yeleussizov.

Thus, Nursultan Nazarbayev was re-elected president and was to remain so until the next presidential election in 2012.

On 31 January this year, President Nazarbayev called for an early election. This decision came after Nazarbayev rejected the idea to extend his term to 2020 by holding a national referendum. On 27 December, 2010 the Central Election Commission registered a proposal from an initiative group of Kazakhstan citizens
to hold such referendum, which could have resulted in skipping the 2012 and the 2017 election.
In two weeks, the initiative group gathered more than five million signatures in support. In addition, members of Parliament initiated amendments to the Constitution designed to create a possibility of extending presidential powers of President Nazarbayev until 2020, based on referendum. Nazarbayev, however, rejected Parliament’s proposal by his decree. Deputies of the Parliament overcame the rejection of the President at a joint session on 14 January. Nazarbayev did not sign the adopted amendments and forwarded them to the Constitutional Council,
which ruled them contradictory to Kazakhstan’s Constitution.


Thus, to resolve a “complex political situation,” Nazarbayev proposed an early election and said: “On the one hand, I cannot reject the nationwide initiative of the overwhelming majority of voters. On the other hand,I cannot create a precedent which would set wrong guidelines for next generation of politicians... I offer a formula that unites us all and that takes into account the will of the people and the faithfulness to democratic principles,” he said.

So President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan finally rejected the idea of holding a referendum to extend his term of office to 2020 by a national referendum and said that, being faithful to democratic principles, he would submit a bill to the Parliament calling for an early presidential election, almost two years ahead of schedule.

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