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Kazakhstan picturePopulation: 16,791,425

HDI ranking: 69/187

HDI score: 0.754

Since independence in 1991, central governments in Kazakhstan have been aware of the importance of decentralization, however, showed few inclinations to act (IU, 2005). In 2004, Kazakhstan enacted a law to limit the responsibility of lower government levels (UCLG, 2007).

Local governance at a glance

  • Kazakhstan is composed of 14 regions, 84 cities, 159 districts, 241 settlements, 2042 rural circuits. Each province is headed by a provincial governor selected by the president (UCLG, 2007).
  • The policy of local organs and acts can be indirectly influenced by citizens by offering proposals to local governments (UCLG, 2007).
  • In some territories, local bodies have power to establish committees of local organs while the chairmen of such committees are selected by Almaty City Council (UCLG, 2007).
  • Local self-government is independent except for the general frameworks defined by central government, but local organs are not participating in the process of redistribution of powers (UCLG, 2007).
  • Kazakhstan has no legislative gender quota at subnational level (Quota Project, 2013).

Civil society actors include

  • Interlegal Kazakhstan aims to promote the development of civil society institutions through education, training, professional preparation, and legal protection in Kazakhstan.

Capacity building institutions

  • The Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law is one of the largest and most influential human rights organizations offering training seminars in human rights for representatives of law enforcement agencies in Kazakhstan.
  • Legal Policy Research Center (LPRC) is an independent think tank aims to develop open dialogues and policy debates in decision making in order to promote human rights in Kazakhstan (Civic Solidarity, 2013).

Fiscal control

  • Local budgets are raised by higher authorities. Local governments have no power to establish taxes, however, have right to increase or decrease rates of land tax up to 50% of basic rates (UCLG, 2007).
  • The share of tax revenues in total local budgets is around 60% in 2006 and has tendency for constant decreasing, nevertheless, the share of official budgetary donations is growing annually (UCLG, 2007).

Key initiatives for participatory local governance

  • After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the development of local organs began from 1991 to 1993. In 1992, the new institution of heads of local administrations was formed (UCLG, 2007).
  • At the end of 1993, local governments were launched, but yet the Constitution rejected the concept of local self-government and only permitted the status of state organs (UCLG, 2007).
  • In 1995, the development of local self-government was established by the adoption of the second Constitution of independent Kazakhstan. During this period the system of local organs is consisting of bodies of local government and bodies of local self-government (UCLG, 2007).
  • In 2005, the government of Kazakhstan has established electronic government to improve the citizens’ right of access to information of local government bodies (UCLG, 2007).

Challenges for participatory local governance

  • Local governments have only limited power in fiscal, regulatory, and administrative matters (World Bank, 2004).
  • In 2003, the president of Kazakhstan confirmed that the process of decentralization stays only the groundwork so far. (IU, 2005) A law was enacted in Kazakhstan to limit the responsibility of lower government levels in 2004 (UCLG, 2007).
  • There was an extremely low participation of citizens in local elections showing a rule indifferent and even negative attitude of citizens to local policy and local governments because of “a high level of corruption in local executive organs, heartlessness and bureaucratism of local state employees, mistrust in deputies” (UCLG, 2007).

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List of sources (in order of citation):

Indiana University (IU), 2005: “Decentralization and Local Self-Government in Kazakhstan: An Institutional Analysis.”

UCLG, 2007: “UCLG Country Profiles: Republic of Kazakhstan.”

QuotaProject, 2013: “Kazakhstan.”

Civic Solidarity, 2013: “Legal Policy Research Center.”

World Bank, 2004: “Implementing Decentralized Local Governance: Treacherous Road with Potholes, Detours and Road Closures.”