Editor’s note: As Kazakhstan approaches presidential elections on November 20, The Astana Times will contribute a series of articles in the form of reviews and interviews, offering insight into each candidate’s election platforms.
ASTANA – Nurlan Auesbayev, the candidate nominated to stand in the upcoming presidential elections on November 20 by the National Social Democratic Party (NSDP), aims to eliminate oligarchy, corruption, poverty and class division in his electoral program and believes that the country has fallen under the negative influence of the oligarchies, which enrich themselves at the expense of the people.
Nurlan Auesbayev was born in the South Kazakhstan region (current Turkestan region) in 1957. He holds degrees in economics and law. After spending his entire career in local government, he was chosen as the chairman of NSDP Astana division in 2021.
As part of his campaign, Auesbayev has so far visited the cities of Karagandy, Shakhtinsk, Shymkent, Almaty and Akmola and Aktobe regions.
Auesbayev said he believes the state should become more accountable to its citizens. Presenting his platform, he stressed that citizens must again become beneficiaries of public wealth. At the same time, businesses must be able to work and pay taxes without fear of persecution or official coercion.
Creation of the parliamentary-presidential republic
To avoid the concentration of power in the hands of one person, according to Auesbayev, Kazakhstan should move from a presidential form of government to a parliamentary form of government.
“Growing inflation, high prices and the systematic depreciation of the national currency mainly affect ordinary Kazakh citizens. This is why political reforms are at the top of my electoral platform. I propose to move away from the formula “strong president, influential parliament, responsible government”. We need a strong unicameral parliament that forms a professional and anti-crisis government. Only then will it be possible to find solutions to many problems, including in the field of education,” Auesbayev said during a meeting with his constituents in Almaty.
According to him, the president will cease to be the supreme power and will exercise representative functions in the international arena, balancing state agencies and being responsible for state security.
Auesbayev also plans to abolish the Senate, an upper house of the country’s parliament, while expanding the Mazhilis, a lower house. Fifty percent of MPs will come from party lists and 50 percent from single-member constituencies. The Mazhilis will also have the power to form the government, while the president will only approve it.
Radical measures to fight corruption
Corruption, according to Auesbayev, weakens government structures, reduces trust between people and destroys trust in institutions.
“We believe that without radical measures to fight corruption, including at the highest political level, Kazakhstan will not be able to follow the path of sustainable development,” he said in his statement.
To improve the situation, he proposes to introduce transparent declarations of income and expenditure for all civil servants. Illicit enrichment will be criminalized and offenders severely punished.
Budget expenditure will also be made transparent. Each city and town will have a special platform where everyone can monitor state spending.
The candidate also plans to support journalistic investigations into corruption cases. According to Auesbayev, these journalists will be placed under the protection of parliament.
People’s economy instead of oligarchic capitalism
According to Nurlan Auesbayev, an economy dominated by oligarchies diminishes the country’s competitiveness. The oligarchs, he noted, have no interest in developing alternative industries and diversifying the economy.
“Rising food prices have become commonplace. People’s reliance on loans continues to grow. The oligarchy that stole the country’s natural resources is now stealing from ordinary people,” Auesbayev’s platform reads.
He offers to carry out detailed investigations and return the stolen money to the country. He also proposes to ensure that the large companies, which had enriched themselves in the 1990s by profiting from privatization, proceed to initial public offerings (IPO) and distribute their assets among mid-level entrepreneurs, who will become the new pillar of the economy.
“We shouldn’t have companies whose failure could bring down the whole economy,” the candidate said.
It also suggests gradually transferring mining industries to state ownership to control strategically important natural resources.
The tax policies applied to large conglomerates will also be modified. Their contributions to the budget should be much larger, especially for social programs, making it possible to cover the national debt and no longer draw on the National Fund. Any business that exceeds the appropriate revenue volumes will fall under the jurisdiction of parliament and will be investigated.
Development-oriented social policy
“People are at the center of our policies. We intend to create a social support network at different levels. Our social policy must help people to progress in social mobility and in unforeseen circumstances, and not to sink into poverty,” Auesbayev said.
It wants to introduce a quality of life standard, which will take into account basic human needs such as food, housing, medicine, clothing, utilities, rest and access to information. Special programs will be developed for different population categories in order to achieve the standard.
Auesbayev suggests allocating 5-7% of GDP to education and health care funding to gradually modernize infrastructure and equipment and a significant increase in salaries, with more schools and hospitals to be built.
Housing programs, which benefit construction companies, leading to higher housing prices, will be reconsidered. Local governments should fund state mortgage subsidies and nearby house building should be banned.
The NSDP candidate is also advocating for police reform, where the police are effective in preventing crime and not just solving it. It should also work to eradicate domestic violence and drug trafficking.
In his platform, Auesbayev reiterates that Kazakhstan must continue to refrain from aggressive military blocs, promote nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation programs, increase the effectiveness of the fight against international terrorism and drug trafficking while maintaining control of the illegal arms trade and illegal migration.
If other countries try to get away with it at Kazakhstan’s expense or undermine its economy, Auesbayev is willing to reconsider the country’s participation in integration processes. In crucial sectors, he calls for moderate protectionism.
“Kazakhstan will continue to play a neutral role in global processes. We are not venturing to establish global hegemony or become a superpower. It is both costly and irrational for pragmatic Kazakhstan,” says Auesbayev.