How can Kazakhstan’s political reforms create real change?
January 2022 demonstrations in Kazakhstan began as protests in far western regions against increases in transportation fuel, and as protests spread to Almaty, the country’s largest city, they grew into calls for major political change. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and other officials eventually acknowledged the social and political underpinnings of the protests, and pledged to respond to protesters’ demands by initiating expansive reforms.
In March 2022, President Tokayev laid out his New Kazakhstan program, a set of reforms he said would make the government more responsive to its citizens and their needs. The proposed political reforms included strengthening representative governance, combatting corruption, improving the electoral system, establishing a Constitutional Court, and decentralization. Astana continues to tout its reform program as Kazakhstanis head to the polls on March 19 in new parliamentary elections. Yet observers say it’s still unclear how expansive these reform efforts will be, and if they will address the root concerns and discontent which sparked the mass protests in January 2022.
The Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center and Freedom Now host a discussion on Kazakhstan’s reform agenda. What progress has Kazakhstan made on President Tokayev’s reform agenda? How can Kazakhstan’s civil society help make reforms more responsive to public demands for change? How can the US and Kazakhstan’s other international partners support and encourage reform in the country?
Founder and Editor
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Eurasia Center
Program Director and Senior Fellow
International Tax and Investment Center
Ambassador William Courtney
Adjunct Senior Fellow
Former US Ambassador to Kazakhstan
Senior Fellow; Director, Program on Central Asia
Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies
Kazakhstan Institute of Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan