On June 21, following a legislative initiative of President Nursultan Nazarbaev, a joint session of the Senate and the Milli Majlis (lower parliamentary chamber) adopted amendments to both Kazakhstan’s electoral law and election-related provisions of its Administrative Code. The amendments eliminate the provision which had automatically disqualified individuals from running for parliament if they had been active in unregistered political parties and associations, or if they had been convicted for “administrative offenses” (misdemeanors). Furthermore, the registration fee of candidates running for parliamentary seats is being: first, reduced to the equivalent of twenty-five average monthly salaries, or 66,000 tenge (US$1 = 131 tenge); and, second, made refundable to candidates who obtain at least 7 percent of the votes cast. The registration fee had until April 1 been equivalent to 100 average monthly salaries and had until now been nonrefundable (Khabar, June 20-21).
The amendments liberalize the legal environment ahead of the parliamentary elections due to be held this fall, probably in October. The changes should also enhance the atmosphere of Nazarbaev’s upcoming official visit to the United States. Improvements in Kazakhstan’s electoral legislation have been urged by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and by Washington, most recently during the visit of its special envoy Stephen Sestanovich to Astana last month.
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