The Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade hosted a roundtable discussion on the results of the presidential elections in Kazakhstan on June 18, 2019. Dr. Pál Gyene, professor at the Budapest Business School, was invited as a guest speaker, while Dr. László Vasa, senior researcher at the Institute, shared his thoughts as well. The discussion was moderated by Sándor Ackermann, analyst of the Institute.
Pál Gyene started with mentioning that Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had resigned in March, was practically the last leader in the Central Asian region leading his country since the break-up of the Soviet Union, so what we see now is definitely the end of an era. However, he noted that although Nazarbayev had resigned from the post of Head of State, he would remain the number one leader of the governing party, Nur Otan, as well as the president of the Security Council, indicating that he would continue to have a strong influence on Kazakh politics.
László Vasa said that during the time of Nazarbayev, who was in power from 1991 to March this year, there was a very serious economic growth in Kazakhstan, the primary catalyst of which was the conscious use of energy sources. According to Vasa, the results of the early elections on June 9 (Kassym-Jomart Tokayev won with gaining more than 70 percents of the votes) show that the opposition did not have a real chance of winning, but the popularity of the new president-elected could not approach the earlier Nazarbayev results. Gyene noted that the only oppositional candidate with some considerable support was Amirzhan Kosanov, while for the first time in the history of the Kazakh elections, a female candidate was registered.
In connection with Nazarbayev’s resignation and post-election demonstrations, the speakers said that although none of these demonstrations reached the tens of thousands, they were still symbolic in terms of the lack of similar action in the country for years.
The speakers agreed that, from a foreign point of view, the Kazakh economy continues to be a potential playground for Russia and China, while the United States is taking a back-seat, being less active in the region.