Kazakhstan is a Republic state based on parliamentary democracy but with an authoritarian presidential rule. Kazakhstan (official name: Republic of Kazakhstan) declared its independence in December 1991 subsequent to dissolution of the Soviet Union. President is the chief of state who is elected through a popular vote for a seven year term. President enjoys absolute executive powers.
President is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. President can initiate constitutional amendments, appoint and dismiss the government, dissolve Parliament and call referenda at his discretion. Prime Minister is the head of the government. Both Prime Minister and his Cabinet are appointed by the President.
The legislature in Kazakhstan is bicameral. The Parliament consists of: the upper house (Senate) having 39 seats; its members partly elected by the regions and partly appointed by the President to serve six-year terms; and the lower house having 77 seats; its members popularly elected to serve five-year terms. Both the members of the lower house and the government have the right of legislative initiative. Prime Minister cannot dissolve the parliament nor veto its enactment.The people of Kazakhstan have very limited political rights.
The constitution of Kazakhstan significantly constrains the independence of the judiciary, which is subservient to the executive branch. The main source of the law is the new constitution adopted through a national referendum in August 1995. The country’s legal system is based on the civil law system. Kazakhstan is a member of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States). There are two judicial languages used in the country: Kazakh and Russian.
Kazakhstan is not ruled by law. Foreign nationals cannot be guaranteed an impartial trial from the country’s judicial system. There is widespread corruption in the country, particularly in government and corporate sector. Businesses are forced to pay bribes in order to deal with the government bureaucracy.
Major political parties
Kazakhstan is a one-party dominant state in the sense that only supporters of the President can share power. Opposition parties are allowed, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power. The major political parties in the country are:
- Otan (Fatherland)– nationalist and also the largest political party,
- DCK (Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan) – advocates rule of law, transparency & free-market economy,
- Communist Party of Kazakhstan – advocates communist ideology,
- Agrarian Party of Kazakhstan – draws support from agricultural & industrial workers.
Major political leaders
President: Nursultan A. NAZARBAYEV (since December 1991, re-elected in 1999 and 2005) - Fatherland
Prime Minister: Karim MASIMOV (since January 2007) – appointed directly by the President - Fatherland
Next political election dates
Presidential: Year 2012
Upper House: Year 2011
Lower House: September 2009