INSTITUTING THE PRESIDENCY IN KAZAKHSTAN AND TAJIKISTAN: STABILITY VS. CONFLICTS
Nikolay Borisov, Ph.D. (Political Science), Assistant Professor, Head, Department of Theoretical and Applied Political Science, Department of History, Political Science and Law, Russian State University of the Humanities (Moscow, Russian Federation)
The author studies the circumstances in which the presidency was instituted in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan and the consolidation of this new institution in 1991 amid the structural and procedural changes. The historical version of neo-institutionalism is used as the methodological foundation of the analysis. This method is based on identifying the indices of the form of government and presidency competitiveness. The author probes deep into the structural and procedural splits, provides a detailed description of the circumstances in which the decision to institute the presidency was prepared and made, the role of the incumbent and his ability/inability to become the president, the first presidential elections, and the positions of the central actors regarding the State Committee on the State of Emergency (GKChP) and the new Union Treaty.
In the absence of considerable disagreements inside Kazakhstan’s elites, legitimization of the First Secretary of the C.C. Communist Party of Kazakhstan as President of the Kazakh S.S.R. went smoothly. Amid the rising political rivalry and the emergence of the first nationalist movements, Nursultan Nazarbaev succeeded in becoming the leader of the struggle for the republic’s sovereignty.
In Tajikistan, the emergence of the national-democratic and, later, Islamic movement led to ethnic and religious splits. From the very beginning, the intention to set up the post of president with wide powers in a split society looked like a hazardous enterprise and made all the political processes very competitive.
As a result, Kazakhstan acquired a non-competitive presidency, while in Tajikistan the presidency was highly competitive. The Tajik model of presidency envisaged wider (compared with the Kazakhstan model) presidential powers, on the one hand, while it functioned in a much more competitive environment, on the other. From the very beginning, the Kazakhstan model proved to be fairly sustainable: it envisaged the Supreme Soviet’s involvement in cabinet- making and fairly wide presidential powers, and it was realized through uncompetitive elections. This allowed President Nazarbaev to tighten his grip on power and later expand his powers at the expense of the parliament. The competitive model with wide presidential powers implemented in Tajikistan not only removed presidents K. Makhkamov, K. Aslonov, and R. Nabiev one after another, but also plunged the presidency and the republic’s political system into a crisis that led to a civil war. In these conditions, the presidency weakened the political system—members of very different political forces and regional clans claimed political power, while the struggle for the post of the president developed into struggle among ethnoregional groups.
Keywords: the institution of presidency, form of government, competitiveness, elections, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, political stability, political conflict.