Nur Otan

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.[6] 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.[7][8]

Bright Fatherland
Nur Otan
ChairmanNursultan Nazarbayev
First DeputyBauyrjan Baibek
Parliamentary LeaderNurlan Nigmatulin
FounderSergey Tereshchenko
Founded12 February 1999 (as Otan)
22 December 2006 (as Nur Otan)
Merger ofPeople's Union of Kazakhstan Unity
Democratic Party
Civic Party
Agrarian Party
People's Cooperative Party
Youth wingZhas Otan
Membership (2007)762,000
IdeologyKazakh nationalism[1]
Pragmatic eurasianism
Social conservatism[4][5]
Economic liberalism[5]
Political positionCatch-all
Colours    Cyan, gold
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,[9] catch-all party[10] 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.[11][12] 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.[12]


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. [13] 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.[13]

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.[13] The party outlined a program largely supportive of Nursultan Nazarbayev, whom was elected by the delegates as the Otan Chairman.[14] 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.[15][16] 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."[13]
– President Nursultan Nazarbayev, speaking at the 1st Congress, 1 March 1999

At the congress, several pro-presidential parties: the People's Union of Kazakhstan Unity, Liberal Movement of Kazakhstan, Democratic Party, and For Kazakhstan-2030 were merged with Otan.[17]

On 23 April 1999, the party was re-registered in the Ministry of Justice.

1999–2006: GrowthEdit

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.[18]

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."[19]

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.[20][13] 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.[20] 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.[20][13] 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).[19]

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.[21] 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.[19]

Nur Otan headquarters in Nur-Sultan

The Otan merged with Dariga Nazarbayeva's Asar on 4 July 2006, increasing the party's seats by 4 to 46 out of 77.[6] After the merged party was formed, Nazarbayev remarked to his daughter "Tell your Asar members that... you are returning to your father."[22] 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."[23]

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."[24] 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.[25] At the congress, Baqytjan Jumagulov became the First Deputy Chairman while Kairat Kelimbetov and Sergey Gromov were elected as deputy chairmen.[26]

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."[27] 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.[28]

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.[29] 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.[30]

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.[31][32]

In May 2010, a Higher Party School was formed under the party, which aimed at improving the party's political studies.[33]

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."[34]


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.[35] 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.[36] 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".[37]


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.[38] 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.[39]

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.[40]

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.[41][42] Tuyakbay eventually joined the opposition and would lead For a Just Kazakhstan alliance by running against Nazarbayev in the 2005 presidential election.

2007 electionsEdit

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.[43] 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.[44]

2012 electionsEdit

After the 2007 elections, the Nur Otan received backlash amongst opposition and international organisations.[45][46] 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.[47][48]

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.[49] 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.[49]

2016 electionsEdit


International partnershipEdit

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,[50] and another in 2015 with United Russia.[citation needed]

Party Country Date of established cooperation
United Russia   Russia 12 June 2004[51]
Chinese Communist Party   China 22 June 2009[52][53]
Justice and Development Party   Turkey 21 October 2009[54]
Party of Regions   Ukraine 24 November 2011[55]
People's Democratic Party   Tajikistan 22 April 2014[56]



No. Portrait Name Took office Left office Acting Chairman
1.   Nursultan Nazarbayev 1 March 1999 Present Sergey Tereshchenko
(1 March 1999 – 21 October 2002)
Amangeldı Ermegiaev
(21 October 2002 – 12 March 2004)
Baqytjan Jūmagulov
(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
Nursultan Nazarbayev
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

Electoral historyEdit

Election Nominee Votes % Result
2005 Nursultan Nazarbayev 6,147,517 91.15% Elected  Y
2011 7,850,958 95.55% Elected  Y
2015 8,833,250 97.75% Elected  Y
2019 Kassym-Jomart Tokayev 6,504,024 70.76% Elected  Y

Mazhilis electionsEdit

Election Party leader Votes % Seats +/– Position Outcome
1999 Nursultan Nazarbayev 1,622,895 30.90%
23 / 77
  23   1st Minority government
2004 5,621,436 60.60%
42 / 77
  19   1st Majority government
2007 5,247,720 88.40%
98 / 98
  41   1st Supermajority government
2012 5,621,436 80.99%
83 / 98
  15   1st Supermajority government
2016 6,183,757 82.20%
84 / 98
  1   1st Supermajority government
2021 5,148,074 71.09%
76 / 98
  8   1st Supermajority government

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Laruelle, Marlene (2016). Kazakhstan in the Making: Legitimacy, Symbols, and Social Changes. Lexington Books. p. 173.
  2. ^ "'Nur Otan' Party's policy consolidates society – KISS senior fellow". 2013-12-08. Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  3. ^ Isaacs, Rico (2011). Party System Formation in Kazakhstan. Routledge. p. 224. ISBN 9781136791086.
  4. ^ "OSCE Yearbook 2019". Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE). University of Hamburg. 25: 81. 2020-07-06 – via Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy.
  5. ^ a b "BAUYRZHAN BAIBEK: "WE WANT A BROAD DISCUSSION INSIDE THE "NUR OTAN" PARTY". 2013-02-05. Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  6. ^ a b Kazakhstan: Ruling Party Gets Even Bigger RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
  7. ^ Kucera, Joshua (2011-04-05). "No One Rigs an Election Quite Like Kazakhstan". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2021-06-05.
  8. ^ "Dozens Detained As Kazakhs Vote With No Opposition On Ballot And Little Hope Of Change". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 2021-06-05.
  9. ^ "OSCE Yearbook 2019". Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE). University of Hamburg. 25: 81. 2020-07-06 – via Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy.
  11. ^ Del Sordi, A. (2016). "Legitimation and the Party of Power in Kazakhstan" (PDF). Politics and legitimacy in post-Soviet Eurasia. University of Amsterdam: Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan: 14.
  12. ^ a b Sholk, Dena (2015-05-05). "Understanding Kazakhstan's Politics". Retrieved 2021-06-06.
  13. ^ a b c d e f "Партия "Нұр Отан" - этапы большого пути". (in Russian). 2019-02-26. Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  14. ^ Information on Political Parties Participating on the Basis of Party Slates in Elections to Majilis of Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan
  15. ^ Lansford, Tom (2019). Political Handbook of the World 2018-2019. SAGE Publications. p. 830. ISBN 9781544327136.
  16. ^ Lansford, Tom (2015). Political Handbook of the World 2015. New York: Congressional Quarterly Inc. ISBN 978-1-4833-7157-3.
  17. ^ "Партия "Nur Otan"". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-06-09.
  18. ^ Media Bias Mars Kazakhstan's Election Campaign Archived 2018-07-26 at the Wayback Machine EurasiaNet
  19. ^ a b c ""Нұр Отан": этапы большого пути - Новости Казахстана - свежие, актуальные, последние новости об о всем". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  20. ^ a b c "Не эпохальный, но рубежный | Номад | 11.11.2002". Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  21. ^ "В Алматы прошел внеочередной 8-й съезд партии Отан | Номад | 12.09.2005". Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  22. ^ Parties of Kazakh Leader, Daughter Merge Townhall
  23. ^ Analysis: Kazakh premier takes over daughter's party Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine Middle East Times
  24. ^ "Pro-Nazarbaev Party Merges With President's Power Base"
  25. ^ "Назарбаев возглавил партию "Нур Отан"". ВЗГЛЯД.РУ (in Russian). 2007-07-04. Retrieved 2021-06-09.
  26. ^ "В состав Политсовета партии "Нур Отан" избраны 14 новых членов". Информационная система ПАРАГРАФ. Retrieved 2021-06-09.
  27. ^ "Агентство по борьбе с коррупцией и партия Нур Отан подписали меморандум о сотрудничестве | Номад | 14.02.2008". (in Russian). 2008-02-14. Retrieved 2021-06-13.
  28. ^ "Положение о Республиканском Общественном Совете по борьбе с коррупцией при Народно-Демократической партии «Нур Отан» (утверждено постановлением Первого заместителя Председателя НДП «Нур Отан» от 3 марта 2008 года № 12)". Информационная система ПАРАГРАФ (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  29. ^ "Выступление Президента РК Н.А.Назарбаева на Антикоррупционном форуме НДП "Нур Отан"". (in Russian). 2008-11-06. Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  30. ^ Самархан, Курмат (2008-11-06). "В структуре НДП "Нур Отан" произошли кадровые преобразования – Д. Калетаев". (in Russian). Kazinform. Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  31. ^ "XII съезд партии Нур Отан | Номад | 18.05.2009". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  32. ^ "Выступление Президента РК, Председателя НДП «Hyp Отан» Нурсултана Назарбаева на внеочередном XII съезде партии. 15 мая 2009 года". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  33. ^ INFORM.KZ (2010-03-31). "Высшая партийная школа НДП "Нур Отан" будет центром формирования партийно-политической элиты страны - Н.Нигматулин". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  34. ^ "Выступление Президента Республики Казахстан, Председателя НДП "Нур Отан" Н.А. Назарбаева на XIV съезде партии.25.11.2011г". (in Kazakh). 2011-11-25. Retrieved 2021-06-09.
  35. ^ Косенов, Алдияр (2013-10-12). "Более 2 тысяч человек примет участие в XV съезде "Нур Отан" в Астане". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  36. ^ "В Астане на съезде НДП "Нур Отан" принята новая политическая доктрина партии". (in Russian). 2013-10-18. Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  37. ^ "НДП "Нур Отан" переименована в партию "Нур Отан" | Kazakhstan Today". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  38. ^ "Kazakh Report: August 20, 1999". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. 1999-08-20. Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  39. ^ J. Röder, Tilmann (2012). Constitutionalism in Islamic Countries: Between Upheaval and Continuity. OUP USA. p. 443. ISBN 9780199759880.
  40. ^ Alibekov, Ibragim (2004-06-23). "Nazarbayev Pushes Democratic Change for Elections, But with Limits | Eurasianet". Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  41. ^ Blua, Antoine (2004-10-15). "Kazakhstan: Parliamentary Speaker Bluntly Criticizes Elections, But For What Purpose?". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  42. ^ Alibekov, Ibragim (2004-10-19). "Renegade Politician in Kazakhstan Tries to Push President into Political Corner | Eurasianet". Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  43. ^ "Nazarbayev's party claim all seats". 2007-08-20. Retrieved 2021-06-09.
  44. ^ "Ruling Party Sweeps Kazakh Parliamentary Polls". 2007-08-19. Retrieved 2021-06-09.
  45. ^ "Drive To Dissolve Kazakh Parliament". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. 2011-11-10. Retrieved 2020-11-17.
  46. ^ Kassymova, Didar; Kundakbaeva, Zhanat; Markus, Ustina (2012). Historical Dictionary of Kazakhstan. Scarecrow Press. p. 178. ISBN 9780810867826.
  47. ^ Dave, Bhavna (2011). Nations in Transit 2011 (PDF). pp. 269–270.
  48. ^ "Kazakh Assembly To Get New Members". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. 2012-01-16. Retrieved 2021-06-09.
  49. ^ a b Reuters Staff (2012-01-17). "TABLE-Kazakh parliamentary election final results". Reuters. Retrieved 2021-06-09.
  50. ^ Regions Party to cooperate with ruling party in Kazakhstan, Kyiv Post (24 November 2011)
  51. ^ "В Алматы встретились представители двух ведущих политических партий Казахстана и России | Номад | 14.06.2004". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  52. ^ "Школа Политического Менеджмента". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  53. ^ "НДП "Нур Отан" и Коммунистическая партия Китая подписали Меморандум о сотрудничестве". (in Russian). Kazinform. 2009-06-22. Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  54. ^ INFORM.KZ (2009-10-22). "НДП "Нур Отан" и партия Справедливости и развития Турции подписали меморандум о взаимопонимании". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  55. ^ "Партия регионов будет сотрудничать с правящей партией Казахстана". Интерфакс-Украина (in Russian). 2011-11-24. Retrieved 2021-06-14.
  56. ^ INFORM.KZ (2014-04-22). "Меморандум о сотрудничестве подписали "Нұр Отан" и Народная Демократическая партия Таджикистана". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-06-14.

External linksEdit