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Kazakhstan - 1995 Election

In March 1995, Kazakstan's Constitutional Court ruled the 1994 parliamentary election invalid because of procedural irregularities that, among other things, waived certain requirements for pro-Nazarbayev candidates. After filing a token objection, Nazarbayev announced the dissolution of parliament and new elections to be held in two or three months. The Council of Ministers that had been approved by that parliament then resigned en masse. Using emergency powers granted him upon the dissolution of the 1990-93 parliament, Nazarbayev reappointed Prime Minister Kazhegeldin, who installed a new Council of Ministers.

Unlike its virtually all-Kazak predecessor, the new body put the key Ministry of Finance under a Russian, Aleksandr Pavlov, and gave the Ministry of the Economy portfolio to a Middle Horde Kazak from the Russified north. One of Kazhegeldin's two new first deputy prime ministers was Kazak; the other was Russian. The new head of the Privatization Commission, Sarybay Kalmurzayev, also apparently was a Middle Horder. He not only began to permit privatization auctioneers to accept cash in addition to vouchers, but also began to give Russian companies rights of first refusal in privatization of large industrial plants, especially military ones.

In April 1995, Nazarbayev staged a referendum that ratified extension of his presidency until December 2000 by a 95 percent majority.

On 30 August 1995, a new Constitution providing, inter alia, for a smaller bicameral legislature was approved by popular referendum. On 2 October, the President announced the December election dates. The overall conduct of the polling was overseen by the Central Election Commission (CEC). According to it, 285 candidates (128 self-nominated, 157 registered to parties or public associations) ran for the 67 Mazhilis seats. As for the Senate, 49 candidates vied for the 40 elective seats, with 14 of the 20 constituencies being uncontested. There were a series of limitations on pre-election campaigning.

The 9 December polling day for the Mazhilis was monitored by domestic and international observers and saw a reported turnout of over 79%. Observers from the OSCE questioned this figure, citing a number of irregularities, including multiple voting by the same individual. At the end of the day, only 41 candidates were declared elected with the required thresholds. Two weeks later, on 23 December, another 13 Deputies were chosen. Finally, on 4 February 1996, the remaining 13 seats were filled. Of the opposition parties, many boycotted the poll. On 30 January, the newly-constituted Parliament met in joint session for the first time.

In December 1995, Nazarbayev issued a decree enabling him to annul any existing law, demand the government's resignation, or order new parliamentary elections. This step furthered the authoritarian direction of Kazakstan's government.

Public opinion in Kazakstan accepted the imposition of presidential rule, at least partly because the parliament Nazarbayev dissolved had focused on its own wages and benefits rather than on solving the nation's problems. In the short run, the imposition of direct presidential rule seemed likely to reduce ethnic tensions within the republic. Indeed, one of Nazarbayev's primary justifications for assuming greater power was the possibility that bolstered presidential authority could stem the growing ethnic hostility in the republic, including a general rise in anti-Semitism.

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