Political Scientists Assess Smailov's Government

cover Photo: Orda

Last week, it was reported that the president would dissolve the Cabinet of Ministers during an expanded government meeting on February 7. However, the resignation took place two days earlier. Orda.kz spoke with political scientists and asked them to evaluate the situation around the outgoing cabinet. 

Long Time Coming

Political scientist Urazgali Selteyev assessed the work of Smailov's government as "satisfactory". In his opinion, being "post-Qantar", it handled its assigned tasks for the most part. Selteyev says this task had been to sustain the economy, albeit at the expense of previously available reserves. The resignation had been a long time coming nonetheless.

Apparently, the president did not want to make drastic reactionary decisions so that it would not look like the government resigned because of some specific event. Now it is already an accumulation of systemic faults and problems, the expert says.
Urazgali Selteyev. Photos from the personal archive

One of the most compelling reasons for the resignation, according to Urazgali Selteyev, is the government's insufficient attention to the president's September address. 

In it, the president indicated that we need a new economic course, a new economic model, which must be implemented in three years. The President presented the outlines, and the government had to present a specific step-by-step plan. But five months have passed, and this vision has not come to be, the political scientist says.

He recalls that in September, the president spoke about the need for deep processing of raw materials and the creation of high-value clusters. A list of supporting economic projects was supposed to be drawn up. But, as Selteyev notes, this has not occurred. 

The government has also failed to carry out the information and explanatory work on tax reform, thereby creating tension in the business environment, says the political scientist.

Selteyev calls the weakening of the central government's supervision over the regions another shortcoming of the outgoing government, as a result of which they were left on their own. 

At the same time, the ministers continue to work only from the offices of the left bank. If they visit the regions, then formally. That is, they, in fact, do not know what is happening in their fields on the ground. They receive information only from akims and akimats, and it is often distorted. Not comprehensively knowing about the existing problems, they cannot offer solutions,  says Urazgali Selteyev.

According to him, it seems that many ministers worked mechanically. 

In my opinion, the Smailov government has also made many systemic communication mistakes. Most officials cannot consistently and professionally explain why this or that measure or reform is being taken. They answer journalists' questions like ordinary people. The public has a feeling of insufficient competence. Accordingly, at the initial stage, any initiative is discredited, and confidence in the government as a whole is undermined, Urazgali Selteyev says.

According to Selteyev, the fact that Toqayev sent the government before the extended meeting was the right decision. There is time to find a new candidate. The expert believes that it would be worthwhile to recruit people from the regions to the government, whereas former cabinet members should be sent to the regions. 

The expert does not make any specific predictions about Smailov's potential replacement.

I am sure that this should be a person with significant experience in managing any region or large-scale production. This person should have authority so that ministers, deputy prime ministers, akims respect him and work. There are very few of them. Authority can still be earned because it is earned through a demonstration of competence. The main thing is that a person has a specific plan and determination to implement it, Selteyev believes.


According to political scientist, Tolganay Umbetaliyeva, openness and contact are a few of the traits that have set the outgoing cabinet apart from previous government structures. She has assessed the work of Smailov's government as "below satisfactory", however. 

An absolutely undistinguished government! There were so many crises, but there was no clear response, no proposals for a solution. The personnel decisions from the Prime Minister were also unclear - what kind of people are these?
Tolganay Umbetaliyeva. Photo: Kaktus.media

Tolganay Umbetaliyeva is not ready to give a "satisfactory" rating even to individual ministers. 

Scandals after scandals: social issues, the CHPP, the Minister of Industry with his unclear citizenship, the Interior Ministry, too. We saw them from the problematic side, but there was no decision-making,  says Umbetaliyeva.

No Disaster

Arkady Dubnov, an expert on Central Asia from Russia, evaluates the work of Smailov's office as above average: 6-7 points on a 10-point scale. 

Smailov is not resigning after some kind of disaster that he can be blamed (for - Ed.) and given a very low rating. And not because he botched the entire reform program announced by the president, but because he could not fully ensure it. He tried to keep the system afloat and, in general, he succeeded. Otherwise, Toqayev would not have given him another chance to fix the situation some time ago, the expert says.
Arkady Dubnov. Photo: Arkady Dubnov's Facebook

Arkady Dubnov clarifies that this situation was seen from outside Kazakhstan. 

Maybe inside, in the elite circle, it looked different. But from the outside, far from Kazakhstan, it looks like this, the expert says. 

Inert and Bulging

Valery Volodin does not asses the Smailov government with figures but also notes that it had to solve the problems that were exposed after the January Events. Other challenges compounded them. The outgoing cabinet could not handle them.

"Each government faces its own challenges and limitations, and the assessment of its work will always be subjective. The government of Alikhan Smailov was supposed to become anti-crisis and able to solve the accumulated problems in society brought to the forefront by Qantar, and thereby reduce the intensity of public discontent. But the pendulum swung again, and a new era of change came, new "interesting times" with which the ancient Chinese frightened their rulers: the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Middle East crisis, the developing global financial collapse, and many other reasons. Initially, they did not allow Smailov's ministries to be as effective as possible. And to be honest, the ministers themselves did not really strive for this, the expert says.
Valery Volodin. Photo: Photo: Facebook Valery Volodina.

According to Volodin, the activities of various ministries raise many questions, while the government as a whole was bloated, inert, and did not seek to take the initiative. 

Expectations from the new government are not too high, as it will face the same problems as the previous one. It is important that it strives to solve problems and improve the lives of citizens, says Valery Volodin.

He hopes that the new Government will be able to find a balance between maintaining stability and making the necessary changes.

It is important that changes in the government take place not just for the sake of imitating political life in an authoritarian state, but truly take into account the interests of the citizens of Kazakhstan, the political scientist believes.

According to Valery Volodin, it is the active participation of citizens in the political life of the country, the strengthening of civil society, and the commitment of citizens to the theory of small deeds that will contribute to the search for solutions and changes.

Original Author: Igor Ulitin 

DISCLAIMER: This is a translated piece. The text has been modified, the content is the same. Please refer to the original piece in Russian for accuracy.

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