1999 Kazakh presidential election

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1999 Kazakh presidential election

← 1991 10 January 1999 2005 →
Turnout87.05% (Decrease1.18pp)
Nominee Nursultan Nazarbayev Serikbolsyn Abdildin
Party Independent CPK
Popular vote 5,846,817 857,386
Percentage 81.00% 11.90%

Results by region

President before election

Nursultan Nazarbayev

Elected President

Nursultan Nazarbayev

Presidential elections were held in Kazakhstan on 10 January 1999. Incumbent president Nursultan Nazarbayev won the election with over 80% of the vote, and was sworn into office on 20 January 1999.[1] Most observers viewed the election as blatantly unfair, further confirming that Nazarbayev was not interested in promoting a democratic system of government.[2][3][4][5] Voter turnout was reported to be 87%.[6]


Kazakhstan's second presidential election was originally scheduled to occur in 1996. However, after a 1995 referendum the date was then set to be in December 2000. Parliamentary action in the fall of 1998, however, ultimately resulted in the election occurring in early 1999.

On 7 October 1998 nineteen amendments to the constitution were passed by Parliament and signed into law by President Nazarbayev. One amendment to article 94 read: "By consent of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan the present term of the powers of the President of the Republic may be reduced by resolution of the Parliament of the Republic, adopted at the joint session of its Chambers by the majority of votes of the total number of deputies of each Chamber. In such case the Mäjilis of the Parliament within one month shall order elections of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan."[7]

Acting under this new amendment, the following day Parliament asked Nazarbayev to shorten his current term in office. The president agreed, after which the Mäjilis set 10 January 1999 as the date for new elections.[8][9]

The main opposition candidate, Akezhan Kazhegeldin, was barred from running in the election, a move criticized by many observers.[2][10] A recently passed law prohibited anyone convicted of a crime from running in the election. Kazhegeldin had recently been convicted of participating in an unsanctioned election rally, thereby becoming ineligible to seek office.[4]


Even before the election, groups such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) expressed concern about the short preparation and campaigning period. OSCE pressed the Kazakh government to postpone the election so that all candidates could have adequate time to campaign, but to no avail.[10][11] U.S. vice president Al Gore called Nazarbayev in November 1998 to express concerns about the upcoming election.[5]

The lack of fair access to mass media also concerned many observers. According to OSCE, most major media outlets focused disproportionately on Nazarbayev.[12]

Serikbolsyn Abdildin, the runner-up in the election, claimed widespread voter fraud and a failure to properly count ballots.[13]

The U.S. Department of State commented that the undemocratic nature of the elections "cast a shadow on bilateral relations".[5]


Nazarbayev's party, the Party of People's Unity of Kazakhstan, was reformed into the Otan Party two months after the elections.[14]

Nursultan NazarbayevIndependent5,846,81780.97
Serikbolsyn AbdildinCommunist Party of Kazakhstan857,38611.87
Gani QasymovIndependent337,7944.68
Engels GabbasovPeople's Union of Kazakhstan Unity55,7080.77
Valid votes7,221,40898.53
Invalid/blank votes107,5621.47
Total votes7,328,970100.00
Registered voters/turnout8,419,28387.05
Source: Nohlen et al.


  1. ^ Olcott, Martha Brill (2002). Kazakhstan: Unfulfilled Promise. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. ISBN 0-87003-188-0.
  2. ^ a b "Kazakhstan's Empty Election". The New York Times. 9 November 1998. Retrieved 2008-06-24.
  3. ^ OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) (5 February 1999). "The Republic of Kazakhstan Presidential Election, 10 January 1999 - Assessment Mission" (PDF). Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. pp. 3, 19–21. Retrieved 2008-06-24.
  4. ^ a b Olcott, p119
  5. ^ a b c Smith, Christopher (March 16, 1999). "Kazakhstan's Presidential Election - Extension of Remarks by Rep. Christopher H. Smith". U.S. House of Representatives. Archived from the original on July 19, 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-24.
  6. ^ Dieter Nohlen, Florian Grotz & Christof Hartmann (2001) Elections in Asia: A data handbook, Volume I, p424 ISBN 0-19-924958-X
  7. ^ Constitution of Kazakhstan Archived 2008-02-08 at the Wayback Machine Legislation Online
  8. ^ "From "Democratization" To Snap Presidential Elections". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2008-06-24.
  9. ^ OSCE-ODIHR, p7
  10. ^ a b "OSCE wants Kazakhstan election postponed". BBC News. 3 December 1998. Retrieved 2008-06-24.
  11. ^ OSCE-ODIHR, p3
  12. ^ OSCE-ODIHR, pp12–14
  13. ^ Defeated Communist Candidate to Protest Kazakhstan Election Outcome Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 13 January 1999
  14. ^ Olcott, p93