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Ethnicity and Elections under Authoritarianism: The Case of Kazakhstan

Listed author(s):
  • Oka, Natsuko

Despite the ethnicisation of power since independence in 1991, Kazakhstan has managed tomaintain political stability without experiencing large-scale mobilisation to oppose Kazakhdomination. This paper examines government strategy to avoid ethnic voting in an attempt toexplain why ethnic divisions were rarely reflected in the struggle for power in the republic.While the arbitrary use of legal provisions considerably limited participation in elections byethnic leaders, powerful pro-president parties that exhibited a cross-ethnic character were createdto curtail ethnically based movements. The control strategy in elections aimed not simply atethnicising the parliament in favour of Kazakhs, but at having loyal Russians and otherminorities represented in the legislature through nomination by the president and catch-allpro-regime parties, or through the presidential consultative body—Assembly of the People ofKazakhstan. This well-controlled representation of minorities served not only to placatenon-Kazakhs but also to provide legitimacy for the Kazakh-dominated leadership by projectingthe image of cross-ethnic support for the president and some degree of power-sharing.

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Paper provided by Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO) in its series IDE Discussion Papers with number 194.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2009
Publication status: Published in IDE Discussion Paper = IDE Discussion Paper, No. 194. 2009-03-01
Handle: RePEc:jet:dpaper:dpaper194
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