The real impact of the constitutional reform has yet to be seen because nothing has changed in practice: the president remains in charge of all state policies and major personnel decisions.

Kazakhstan has made significant progress in terms of opening up its economy and liberalizing cross-border trade, but the de facto business entry rates remain low. Fundamental deficiencies persist on a structural level, i.e. low competition, price controls, and non-trade barriers.

Unlike many other post-Soviet countries, Kazakhstan has been spared protracted instability and has managed to ensure the widespread acceptance of Nazarbayev’s “first the economy, then politics” principle at the cost of continuous manoeuvring and state propaganda.

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