Kazakhstan political situation
The Republic of Kazakhstan has a parliamentary system dominated by President Nursultan Nazarbayev and the ruling Nur Otan Party. While the Government of Kazakhstan articulates a strategic vision of a democratic society, it has lagged on the implementation front. The leadership remains resistant to competitive political processes, and the situation is complicated by the fact that President Nazarbayev is extraordinarily popular, while the opposition is weak, fractured, and comprised principally of former Nazarbayev loyalists who fell out of favor.
The current ruling elite is a combination of the old Soviet elite, new regional elites, Nazarbayev's family, and those who were close to the President "in spirit." Most of the current opposition leaders arose from the same ranks. Upon splitting with the President, they tended to ignore the existing opposition, only to repeat the same mistakes as their predecessors.
The political elite surrounding President Nazarbayev is solidly split into two camps - "the hawks and the doves." Hawks are those who believe that Kazakhstan will be accepted by the international community "as is" because of its vast natural resources and strategic geopolitical position. The hawks are the "old guard" - remnants of the Soviet power machine who remained close to President Nazarbayev as he rose to power. The doves are those "who at least want to create the image of progress, " especially for foreign audiences. The doves are the younger generation of Kazakhstan's political and business leaders, including those with strong business links to the West. President Nazarbayev makes all the major political decisions, but his decisions depend on which group has his ear.
The Kazakhstani political system - the several score top figures who rotate among the top economic and political jobs within the system - has calcified into a rigid "caste system" that is impossible to penetrate unless one has the necessary family connections. The constitution concentrates power in the presidency. The president controls the legislature and the judiciary as well as the regional and local government. Changes or amendments to the constitution require presidential consent. President Nazarbayev makes every critical decision on government and parliamentary appointments, regardless of what the Constitution says. The political center carefully managed its power in the regions, appointing its own people to important regional positions. The overall effect, is a carefully-balanced, though dynamic, network of influence and power which revolved around Nazarbayev. Ultimately, the only real source of power is the favor of the President. Even though people want institutional guarantees, the President says, "I am your only guarantee."