Kazakhstan Slowly Moves to a New System for Electing Mayors

Special correspondent of the "News" department
Direct elections of small towns and settlements mayors are going to be a common practice

On May 25 President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed new amendments to election legislation, which make it possible to elect heads of small towns, settlements and villages.

The institute of the direct election on the municipal level for small towns was initiated by the president, who announced this idea in his national address on September 1, 2020. New rules for elections will cover 2,345 administrative units; 836 heads of local administration should be elected in the second half of this year. 

According to the new rules, every citizen of Kazakhstan who is above 25 years old and meets all relevant requirements for public service can be elected as an akim (head of the administration). To participate in elections, political parties’ nominees and independent candidates should collect signatures of at least 1% of voters from a certain community. 

The new rules envisage an order of how these signatures should be collected, how candidates must be registered or withdraw from elections as well as an entire procedure of voting. The law also sets a rule of when and how akims should resign from office and articulates characteristics of an inspection for such official positions.

Elections on the local level should be announced in advance (not later than 40 days) and the voting itself must be organized in ten days before a certain akim leaves its office. The deadline for the results announcement is three days. Also, every candidate has to pay an electoral fee, which is equivalent to $99.19 as of the 2021 currency rate.

In turn, Kazakhstan’s government is going to allocate $11.2 million or $13,302 per election of one akim.

«The total cost of these elections is about 41 million, $11.2 million must be allocated this year to support 836 akim elections,» said Alisher Abdykadyrov, vice-minister of the national economy, who presented amendments to the parliament. 

The election cost is going to be higher in the following years: $20,537 per one akim’s election or $7.2 million for 351 elections of local akims next year; $9.3 million for 499 elections in 2023; $10.7 million for 585 elections in 2024 and $2.5 million for 74 akim elections in the first half of 2025.

Another novelty implemented by the new law is a decreased voting threshold for political parties which are going to get a seat in the parliament. Now, it’s 5% instead of 7%. Also, the ballot paper now includes a none-of-the-above option again. This response option was excluded from the ballot papers in 2011.

Read also