Government and Politics
Government: Strong presidential system, prescribed
in 1993 constitution and reinforced by dismissal of parliament
and beginning of direct presidential rule by Nursultan Nazarbayev,
1995. Presidential election delayed by referendum until 2000.
New constitution, approved in August 1995 referendum, mandates
bicameral parliament and increases presidential power. Parliamentary
election for both houses held December 1995. Nineteen provinces
and city of Almaty run by executives appointed by national president.
Politics: Close government control of legal
political parties has not prevented numerous groups from forming.
Participation in 1994 and 1995 parliamentary elections limited
to approved parties, but 1994 parliament strongly opposed many
of Nazarbayev's programs. Election of 1994 declared invalid, and
parliament dissolved in early 1995. Nazarbayev's People's Unity
Party retained plurality in 1995 elections. Several Kazak and
Russian nationalist parties with small representation in govern-ment.
Foreign Policy: Post-Soviet broad search for
international support, role as bridge between East and West, under
personal direction of President Nazarbayev. Critical balance of
Russian and Chinese influence, careful reserve toward Muslim world
outside Central Asia; proposal of Euro-Asian Union to replace
CIS, 1994. Active diplomatic role in CIS crises (Nagorno-Karabakh,
International Agreements and Memberships: Member
of United Nations (UN), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Partnership for Peace, Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe (OSCE), Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), Asian
Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, CIS, International
Criminal Police Organization (Interpol).
Data as of March 1996