The Nur Otan (Kazakh: Нұр Отан, romanized: Nūr Otan, lit. 'Radiant Fatherland' or 'Light of the Fatherland', NO) is a big tent political party in Kazakhstan. Being the largest to date, it has been the ruling party of the country since 1999, with a membership claiming to be of over 762,000 people in 2007. Under leadership of former president Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Nur Otan has constantly won Kazakhstan's presidential and national parliamentary elections, more often in recent history with a supermajority number of votes amidst claims of rigging and lack of viable opposition.
|First Deputy||Bauyrjan Baibek|
|Parliamentary Leader||Nurlan Nigmatulin|
|Founded||12 February 1999 (as Otan)|
22 December 2006 (as Nur Otan)
|Merger of||People's Union of Kazakhstan Unity|
People's Cooperative Party
|Youth wing||Zhas Otan|
|Seats in Mazhilis|
76 / 107
399 / 489
2,286 / 2,757
Originally founded on 12 February 1999 as simply Otan (Kazakh: Отан, lit. 'Fatherland') by former Prime Minister Sergey Tereshchenko, after the merger of several previously independent pro-presidential parties, including the People's Union of Kazakhstan Unity, the Liberal Movement of Kazakhstan, and the "For Kazakhstan - 2030" Movement. From there, the Otan eventually absorbed other parties such as the Democratic Party, People's Cooperative Party, Asar, and more recently the Civic and Agrarian parties in 2006 to become the biggest, gaining status of the party of power. In the 2007 legislative elections, the Nur Otan swept all the contested seats in the lower-house Mazhilis, leaving no other parties to have representation until 2012, though leaving its dominant-party control of the Parliament.
The Nur Otan has been viewed as a secular, conservative, catch-all party with an authoritarian form of governance that functions by its branches throughout the country and presence within nationwide institutional resources and maintains offices in all 16 of Kazakhstan’s administrative divisions, as well as 241 local offices which greatly contribute to the party's existence. The Nur Otan itself views as a party of promoting agendas for future reforms in civil service, economic diversity, open government, rule of law, and nationalism.
1998–1999: Origins and foundationEdit
The Nur Otan traces back to its origins in October 1998, when a public association in support of President Nursultan Nazarbayev's re-election campaign bid in the 1999 election was formed, to which former Prime Minister Sergey Tereshchenko became the head of. The party derives its name from the Islamic words nūr (light) and vatan (fatherland), the latter of which is spelled as otan in the Kazakh language.  At the meeting held on 19 January 1999, a decision was made to convert the campaign staff into a political party to which became registered on 12 February 1999.
In its 1st Congress, held on 1 March 1999 in Almaty which was attended by about 400 delegates from all regions, cities and districts of the country. Amongst them were representatives of 17 nationalities, 104 entrepreneurs and businessmen, 67 public sector workers, 122 civil servants. The party outlined a program largely supportive of Nursultan Nazarbayev, whom was elected by the delegates as the Otan Chairman. However Nazarbayev declined to take over the chairmanship on a constitutional basis, resulting in Tereshchenko taking the role as the acting chairman while Nazarbayev himself would serve as the de facto party leader. Speaking at the congress, the Nazarbayev stated that:
"The country can relatively painlessly survive the modern world challenges, only strengthening the internal economy, internal political stability, only demonstrating civil consolidation and solidarity. And in this regard, I have special hopes for the political party being created today, which we decided to call the word 'Otan' (Fatherland). The main thing is that the party is created from below, at the initiative of those thousands of volunteers who supported my candidacy for the Presidency in all the settlements of our country."
– President Nursultan Nazarbayev, speaking at the 1st Congress, 1 March 1999
On 23 April 1999, the party was re-registered in the Ministry of Justice.
In the run-up to previous elections, Otan usually received a majority of domestic media coverage. Before the 1999 legislative elections, for example, it was reported that Otan was the main focus in almost 60% of the coverage.
On 20 April 2001, at the 3rd Ordinary Congress, Nazarbayev summarised the results of the party's work telling that "the party has gained good work experience and over the past years has shown that it lives up to its name and can work to strengthen statehood, to consolidate society, to protect the interests of citizens."
At the 4th Extraordinary Congress held on 9 November 2002, the amendments and additions were made to the Otan's party charter, program for the development of small and medium-sized businesses for 2003–2005 was approved. Nazarbayev proclaimed three main themes of the congress agenda of which were: problems of political modernization, improvement of the political system–issues of further development of the economy and, accordingly, the solution of social programs–issues of security of the individual, society, the state. Nazarbayev proposed that the Otan should be a centrist party with social democratic platform to which he praised it as a "creative potential, advocating a state with a socially oriented market economy, with high social stability and a developed social infrastructure." From there, the People's Cooperative Party of Kazakhstan and Republican Political Party of Labour merged with Otan. By that time, the Otan had already 7,000 primary party organizations in all 206 district and city offices and 16 branches. 1,660 party members became members of regional, city and district mäslihats (local assemblies).
On 9 September 2005, the 8th Otan Extraordinary Congress was held with the participation of the party leader and head of state Nursultan Nazarbayev. For the first time, the delegates nominated Nazarbayev as a candidate for presidency. The party intended to unite all the constructive civic forces within the country on the platform of support for Nazarbayev and provide him with new opportunities to complete political reforms. The Otan pledged to implement the initiatives set by Nazarbayev of which were reviving the rural villages, developing agricultural production, domestic industry, small and medium-sized businesses.
The Otan merged with Dariga Nazarbayeva's Asar on 4 July 2006, increasing the party's seats by 4 to 46 out of 77. After the merged party was formed, Nazarbayev remarked to his daughter "Tell your Asar members that... you are returning to your father." Dariga, on 19 June 2006, said that all pro-presidential parties should combine to create a grouping "with which no other party will be able to compete in the next 50 years."
In November 2006, it was announced that the Civic Party and the Agrarian Party would follow in Asar's path and also merge with Otan to increase the party's share of MP's from 46 to 57 seats out of 77. Nazarbayev said he expected other parties to merge with Otan. Nazarbayev said there should be fewer, stronger parties that "efficiently defend the interests of the population." At the subsequent party congress on 22 December 2006, delegates voted to rename Otan into the Nur Otan People's Democratic Party.
On 4 July 2007, at the 11th Nur Otan Extraordinary Congress, Nursultan Nazarbayev was re-elected as the party Chairman. This came after amendments to the Constitution of Kazakhstan, which removed limit on president's activities with political parties during his term of office. At the congress, Baqytjan Jumagulov became the First Deputy Chairman while Kairat Kelimbetov and Sergey Gromov were elected as deputy chairmen.
In 2008, the Nur Otan formed its youth wing named Zhas Otan and that same year in February, the party signed a cooperation agreement with the Agency of Combating Economic and Corruption Crime to which according to First Deputy Chairman Adilbek Zhaksybekov: "The public councils will influence through the media, through methods of public influence, so that cases brought for corruption offences are brought to an end." Just month later on 3 March 2008, the Nur Otan Republican Public Anti-Corruption Council was formed, which was an advisory body under the party aimed at fighting corruption.
At the Nur Otan Anti-Corruption Forum held on 6 November 2008, Nazarbayev proposed the creation of the Committee of Party Control which would provide public support and help the Nur Otan fight the corruption. He also called for the party to cooperate with non-government organisations (NGOs) and that the Nur Otan should keep issues of corruption in the health and justice system on the stand. That same day, changes took place within the party. Boran Raqymbekov was appointed as the chairman of the party control committee, while new Secretary posts were formed for the Nur Otan organisational and mass work with Sergey Gromov and Erlan Karin being appointed as the secretaries.
On 15 May 2009, the 12th Nur Otan Extraordinary Congress was held, from there Nazarbayev presented a plan for the nation to recover from the Great Recession and urged for the party members to develop Innovative development, raise the standard of living, and stability in society. He also called for a diversification within the economy, claiming that the agricultural sector would make great contributation to the cause. The congress also addressed the issues of improving the system of government, combating corruption and improving the efficiency of the party itself.
In May 2010, a Higher Party School was formed under the party, which aimed at improving the party's political studies.
At the 14th Extraordinary Congress held on 25 November 2011, the party unveiled its electoral platform called the "Kazakhstan 2017 Goals National Plan of Action". At the congress, Nazarbayev stated that "in the 21st century only strong states can develop successfully. As the political leadership party Nur Otan, it takes responsibility for the future of the country, the stability of society and the continuity of the political course in the coming decades."
On 17–18 October 2013, at the 15th Nur Otan Extraordinary Congress in Astana of which was attended by 1,200 delegates representing all regional branches of the party and more than a 1,000 guests. The Nur Otan presented its doctrine to which called for evolutionary development and to build a democratic, prosperous, competitive and socially oriented state where every motivated, law-abiding and hard-working citizen would benefit himself and society. At the congress, a decision was made to adopt a new full name for the party as simply "Nur Otan", removing the "People's Democratic" wording in which First Deputy Chairman Bauyrjan Baibek argued that political parties do not put "ideological affiliation" in their name as basis for "international practice".
1999 Mazhilis electionsEdit
The Otan for the first time participated in the 1999 legislative elections, with 54 candidates from single-member districts and 18 from the party-list for the Mazhilis. The party won a minority of 23 out of 77 seats with 30.90% of the vote with a majority of independents and political associates whom were affiliated with the party's parliamentary group.
On 14 December 1999, the Bureau of the Mazhilis registered the Otan parliamentary group with 39 MP's, which included 13 Senators, 26 Mazhilis members. By the decree of the party's Bureau of the Political Council, Quanyşbek Böltaev was approved as the head of the faction, and Urazalinov Sh.A. as the deputy.
2003 local electionsEdit
In 2003, 2,240 members of the Otan were elected to mäslihats (local assemblies) of all levels. Having an overwhelming majority in the representative bodies of power at all levels, the party gained its opportunity to influence the socio-economic policy of the state by region.
2004 Mazhilis electionsEdit
At the party's congress held on 15 June 2004, Nursultan Nazarbayev proclaimed that the "unity is the main condition for prosperity of our people and state." and with the Otan claiming that the party representatives made up only six percent of the total 1,755 candidates that were nominated for the 2004 legislative elections.
In the 2004 Kazakh legislative election, the party won 60.6% of the popular vote and 42 out of 77 seats with 35 being from single-member districts, becoming a majority in the Mazhilis. Zharmakhan Tuyakbay, Chairman of the Mazhilis and a party loyalist renounced his Otan membership and resigned from post as the Mazhilis Chairman after criticising the government of rigging the elections in favour of the party. Tuyakbay eventually joined the opposition and would lead For a Just Kazakhstan alliance by running against Nazarbayev in the 2005 presidential election.
Following the dissolution of the 3rd Mazhilis in June 2007 and the amendments to the Constitution which changed Kazakhstan's electoral system, the Nur Otan presented 127 persons in the party-list which were scheduled to be elected for the first time through proportional representation.
In the 2007 Kazakh legislative election, the Nur Otan won 88.1% of the vote and all the contested seats, making it the highest share for the party in history while other parties were unable pass the 7% electoral threshold, thus leaving the Nur Otan to have a sole party representation in the Parliament. This made the party become a central factor in the political decision-making process within the government, being compared to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union by the opposition.
After the 2007 elections, the Nur Otan received backlash amongst opposition and international organisations. This eventually led to the Parliament, in which the Nur Otan had controlled, to pass an amendment that would guarantee for the opposing party to have a mandate in the Mazhilis whether it reaches the required 7% electoral threshold or not, with lawmakers from the Nur Otan itself whom called for a multi-party system.
The Nur Otan at the 2012 legislative election swept 80.9% of the vote, winning a supermajority of 83 out of 98 seats, although suffering its worst loss of 15 seats in comparison to 2007. Two parties: the Ak Zhol Democratic Party and Communist People's Party of Kazakhstan gained its presence in the Parliament, although they were viewed as loyal to the government.
Despite not being affiliated with any political international, the Nur Otan has signed and renewed numerous cooperation agreement with other political parties worldwide. In October 2011 a was signed in Nur-Sultan between Nur Otan and the Ukrainian Party of Regions, and another in 2015 with United Russia.
|Party||Country||Date of established cooperation|
|United Russia||Russia||12 June 2004|
|Chinese Communist Party||China||22 June 2009|
|Justice and Development Party||Turkey||21 October 2009|
|Party of Regions||Ukraine||24 November 2011|
|People's Democratic Party||Tajikistan||22 April 2014|
|No.||Portrait||Name||Took office||Left office||Acting Chairman|
|1.||Nursultan Nazarbayev||1 March 1999||Present||Sergey Tereshchenko|
(1 March 1999 – 21 October 2002)
(21 October 2002 – 12 March 2004)
(18 April 2005 – 4 July 2007)
First Deputy ChairmanEdit
|No.||Portrait||Name||Took office||Left office||Chairman|
|1.||Baqytjan Jūmagulov||4 July 2007||23 January 2008|
|2.||Ädılbek Jaqsybekov||23 January 2008||13 October 2008|
|3.||Darhan Kaletaev||13 October 2008||19 November 2009|
|4.||Nūrlan Nyğmatulin||19 November 2009||24 September 2012|
|5.||Baqytjan Sağyntayev||24 September 2012||16 January 2013|
|6.||Bauyrjan Baibek||16 January 2013||8 August 2015|
|7.||Asqar Myrzahmetov||8 August 2015||6 May 2016|
|8.||Muqtar Qul-Muhammed||6 May 2016||1 February 2018|
|9.||Mäulen Äşimbaev||1 February 2018||29 June 2019|
|10.||Bauyrjan Baibek||29 June 2019||Present|
23 / 77
42 / 77
98 / 98
83 / 98
84 / 98
76 / 98
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