A woman in the big

by Nathan Hamm on 9/29/2003

A woman in the big tent by ’06?
Dariga Nazarbayeva, daughter of Kazakhstan’s president, is forming a
political party, probably to run for parliament. Some liken the
situation to the current election in Azerbaijan where the son of the
currently ill president is standing for election in the October 15th
Presidential elections. Now, Central Asia does have unique political
succession so far, but what’s this mean?

Commenting on Nazarbaeva’s latest move, Moscow based
journalist Sanobar Shermatova pointed out that that political
developments in Central Asia have their own dynamics.
“The formula by which power is distributed in Central Asia is
reminiscent of the dynastic transition which dominated this region in
the Middle Ages,” she said.

I think it means that Russians are pretty patronizing is all. I don’t
buy it. Also, there’s not a whole helluva lot of difference when a
President just handpicks a successor who’s not the fruit of his loins
(*cough* Yeltsin *cough*). There’s nothing Middle Ages about this, it’s
like Soviet elections with more people on the ballot. These Presidents
don’t have their own parties in most cases, and I think that very few
of them trust anyone beyond their own kin and tribe (as is the case in
some countries). The kid is the safest bet for the current President
and for the elite who are more or less choosing a known quantity who
will simply keep the balance of power essentially unchanged. Also, the
fix is only in to varying degrees in Central Asia. And, for better or
worse, there’s at least the appearance of democracy, unlike the blatant
handing over of power that takes place in the Middle East. Even though
they don’t mean anything, these elections are important. If the day
does come when free elections are allowed, Central Asians will have had
experience with voting, the whole “one man, one vote” thing (even if it
means nothing), and “choosing” a leader (don’t laugh, it’s amazing how
much of a problem this can be in places where no voting has ever taken

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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