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Kazakhstan's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, at the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting, St. Petersburg, Russia, Dec. 26, 2016 (AP photo by Dmitri Lovetsky).

What New Reforms in Kazakhstan Suggest About a Future Political Transition

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Kazakhstan’s parliament has approved reforms that would decentralize power in the Central Asian nation, potentially giving parliament and the Cabinet more control over key duties such as managing the economy. In an email interview, Marlene Laruelle, director of the Central Asia program at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, discusses what the reforms could mean for President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has ruled since the fall of the Soviet Union.

World Politics Review: What might the decision to devolve some presidential powers mean for Nazarbayev's political future?

Marlene Laruelle: Nazarbayev has announced political reforms at various points in the past, and so far democratization has yet to occur, so we should remain cautious when considering this latest move. However, it seems obvious that this is part of some kind of succession strategy, both in terms of preparing the public and in terms of redistributing power among elites once the “first president” leaves the scene. ...

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