Following the 1995 Constitution, most recently revised in
2007, Kazakhstan is a unified state, secular, presidential
and formally democratic republic.
President, Government and National Assembly
The president is both the head of state, the military
commander and the real head of government. The President is
elected from the 2012 general elections for five years. The
Government is appointed by and responsible to the President,
who also appoints other key officials.
Legislative power has been added to parliament,
consisting of a Senate and another chamber (Mazhilis).
The Senate has 47 members, of which 32 - two from each of
the country's 14 regions and two metropolitan areas - are
elected by the regional electoral corps for six years, with
half being elected every three years; the other 15 members
are appointed by the president. The Second Chamber has 107
members, 98 of whom are elected in direct elections for five
years on party lists according to the ratio method; nine
members are elected by a 350-member assembly representing
the country's national minorities.
The party Nur Otan (the Fatherland Light), which supports
President Nursultan Nasarbayev, received 84 of the total 98
seats elected in the 2016 elections. but the president can
veto the council's judge. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how KGF can stand for Kazakhstan.
Since 1989, the country's policy has been characterized
by Nursultan Nasarbayev. In 1989 he became First Secretary
of the Communist Party and in 1991 became the first
President of independent Kazakhstan. His government has
gradually become more authoritarian, and the 1995
Constitution has laid the groundwork for a strong
presidential regime following French (Gaullist) role models.
Elections and parties
International observers from the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have regularly
observed presidential and parliamentary elections in
Kazakhstan since becoming independent in 1991. No elections
have been recognized as completely free and fair by the OSCE.
During the country's last elections (parliamentary
elections in March 2016), the OSCE noted that despite some
progress, Kazakhstan still has a long way to go to secure
fair elections. The OSCE further noted that the ruling party
had a clear advantage over the others in the election
campaign and that there is a lack of real political
During the last parliamentary elections, President
Nursultan Nazarbayev's own party Nur-Otan took over 82
percent of the vote while the other votes were given to two
government-friendly parties, Ak Zhol and the Communist
The country's largest opposition party, Alga !, is banned
and cannot take part in elections. The party's leader,
Vladimir Kozlov, sat in jail until 2016 and was recognized
by Amnesty International and other human rights
organizations as prisoners of conscience.
The Kazakh authorities regularly crack down on critical
media, and have banned several newspapers (Respublika,
Vzglyad, Adam Bol and others) and online TV channels (K +,
Administratively, the country is divided into 14 regions
(akimat) and three urban areas. One of the urban
areas, Bajkonur, is leased to Russia until 2050; here is the
Russian (former Soviet) space center. The autonomy of the
regions is rather limited.
The judiciary, which according to the constitution should
be independent, is led by a Supreme Court of 44 judges. The
judges in both this court and the lower courts are appointed
by the president. The appointments to the Supreme Court must
be approved by Parliament.
Kazakhstan's foreign policy
Relations with Russia still play a key role in
Kazakhstan's foreign policy. Kazakhstan has taken several
initiatives to strengthen the Commonwealth of Independent
States (SUS) cooperation. Kazakhstan has joined the vast
majority of cooperation agreements entered into in this
organization. In 1994, President Nursultan Nazarbayev
proposed the creation of a Eurasian union with far greater
supranational authority than the USSR and with its own
parliament following the pattern of the European Parliament.
A moderated version of the plan was launched six years later
as the Eurasian Economic Community.
A comprehensive cooperation agreement with Russia was
signed in May 1992. Kazakhstan has resisted Russian demands
to open a general dual citizenship scheme for citizens of
the two countries, but a new bilateral agreement in January
1995 introduced a system of "sleeping" dual citizenship ».
It automatically gives everyone who moves from one country
to another the right to new citizenship from the moment of
moving. In March 1996, Kazakhstan signed an agreement on
closer economic and political integration with Russia,
Belarus and Kyrgyzstan.
Integration efforts within Central Asia have been
somewhat hampered by the Uzbekistan- Kazakhstan rivalry,
both of which aspire to a leadership role in the region.
However, following the death of Uzbek President Islam
Karimov in 2016, diplomatic relations between the two
countries have improved. Incidentally, the countries around
the Caspian Sea have had disputes over the right to natural
resources there. Most countries with a lot of oil near their
own coast - Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan - have
wanted the sea to be divided into national economic zones.
Russia and Iranhas, on the other hand, wanted to regard the
Caspian Sea as a lake, whose resources can only be utilized
by agreement between all coastal states. In 1998, however,
Moscow agreed to divide the northern area of the sea
between Russia and Kazakhstan.
The West's interest in Kazakhstan has largely been linked
to concerns about the arsenal of nuclear weapons inherited
from the Soviet Union. In December 1993, Kazakhstan joined
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In 1995, it was
announced that the nuclear arsenal had been transferred to
Russia for destruction.
Kazakhstan has general military duty for men from the age
of 18, with a first-time service of 12 months. The military
service is scheduled to be discontinued.
Kazakhstan is a member of the NATO Partnership for Peace
Program of 1994. The country has acceded to the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty and has returned to Russia all
nuclear warheads from the Soviet Union. The test field at
Semipalatinsk was closed in 1991.
The total force figures for Kazakhstan's armed forces are
39,000 active personnel (2018, IISS). In addition, 31,500
semi-military, including around 20,000 in the National
The army has a strength of 20,000 active personnel.
Materials include 300 tanks of a T-72, 100 reconnaissance
vehicles, 607 armored vehicles, about 369 armored personnel
carriers, about three armored fighters and 246
self-propelled artillery. In addition, the army has heavy
artillery, and short-range ballistic missiles and
The Air Force has a workforce of 12,000 active personnel.
Material comprising 46 fighters (including 14 MiG-29 and 32
MiG-31), 46 fighter aircraft (two MiG-23, 12 MiG-27, 24
Su-27 and eight Su-30), 14 attack aircraft of the type
Su-25, one reconnaissance aircraft, 19 transport aircraft,
18 training aircraft, 64 helicopters, of which 24 combat
helicopters (20 Mi-24 and four Mi-35), and two heavy drones.
In addition, the Air Force has long range air defense
The Navy has a staff of 3,000 active personnel, 12 patrol
vessels, a minesweeper, and one auxiliary vessel.
Kazakhstan participated in the UN operation in Western
Sahara (MINURSO) in 2018 with five observers.