Thursday, December 30, 2010

Well, this seems legitimate

Imagine you're the president of one of the former member states of the USSR and under your newish democratic system are meant to be having an election soon. What do you do?

You could take a page out of the President of Kazakhstan's book and decide not to hold not just one, but the next two Presidential elections. The fact that his party controls the entire parliament makes this a bit easier, although they are going to go ahead with a referendum on the issue, just to make it look like things are on the up and up.

Supporters of the plan say they are sure that they people trust the president, but if that is the case why don't they trust the people to vote for him in an election. They also say it will bring stability, but if the people want stability then they can vote for it at an election. These aren't really reasons for doing an end run around the constitution.

The idea of holding a referendum on this is an interesting twist, making it easier to say that this avoidance of electoral scrutiny is the will of the people. But even if the people like him now, are they going to like him when he's still president in 2020 and hasn't had to go to the polls for 9 years?

Even if it is the will of the people that Mr Nazarbayev remains president until 2020, they can bring this about without having to short circuit their electoral system. Doing it this way just makes the government of Kazakhstan look corrupt and illegitimate, which might be a price it is willing to pay, but it will cost the people even more.