Kazakhstan's political parties are gearing up for early parliamentary elections. Under a new, constitutionally mandated election format, opposition politicians stand to gain seats in the new legislature. But observers are convinced that pro-presidential forces will remain in firm control of the legislature.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev dissolved parliament on June 20 and scheduled a special vote for August 18. Early elections are needed to break a constitutional conundrum. Under amendments approved in May, changes in the legislature's authority cannot take effect until a fresh body of deputies is elected according to the new proportional representation system. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Kazakhstan's administration says the president is ceding powers to parliament and creating a presidential-parliamentary republic; critics attack the reform as cosmetic.
"[Parliament is] in the situation of a person with one leg on one riverbank and the other on the other bank.
Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asian affairs.