chapter  6
21 Pages

Democratization and Social Movements

WithCharles Tilly

No social movements occurred in Kazakhstan this year. None occurred last year, and none will occur next year. Plenty of conflict, however, has occurred in Kazakhstan recently. Cossacks have been demanding more autonomy; Russians, guarantees of their language and privileged positions; members of Kazakh hordes, rights to priority in their homeland; Muslims, the Islamization of public life; and many contenders, larger shares of graft or contraband. Since the inauguration of formally competitive elections in 1989, multiple parties have appeared on Kazakh ballots. Responding in 1999 to reporters’ questions about forthcoming parliamentary elections, President (and Soviet holdover) Nursultan Nazarbayev portrayed himself as a democratic teacher:

Of course, when we have such economic hardships, political forces in the country become more active. For the first time in the history of Kazakhstan, there will be parliamentary elections by party lists. That is normal, but if the political struggle becomes more acute in the period to elections, I think I myself, as leader of the country, must educate my nation on how to introduce democracy to the country. We never had any sort of democracy before. (Radio Free Europe 1999: 2)