Kazakhstan: Voters Approve Constitutional Changes

    Photo: Reuters [via Al Jazeera]

    The Facts

    • Kazakhstan's Pres. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev vowed to implement democratic reforms after the Central Election Commission's announced on Mon. that the population widely favored the reforms in a referendum.

    • Almost 70% of Kazakh voters cast a ballot on Sun., and preliminary results released by the CEC indicate that over 77% of them backed the changes while less than 19% rejected them.

    The Spin

    Pro-establishment narrative

    The approval of this referendum gives hope that democratic liberalism can flourish in Eurasia despite a rising authoritarian tide. Kazakhstan can become an important ally to Western powers, so it should fully engage to promote stability and help facilitate a transition to democracy.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    Western powers shouldn't fall into wishful thinking; this may not be enough to solve Kazakhstan's problems. The reforms passed in the referendum don't address the deep structural problems that have led to recent agitations in the country. These reforms focus mostly on auxiliary problems to provide an image of stability at home and abroad.

    Establishment split



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