Kazakhstan is a constitutional republic with a presidential form of governance. The President is both the head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has been in office since Kazakhstan became independent in December 1991, won a five-year term in the 2011 early presidential elections, gaining 95.55% of votes cast.
Kazakhstan’s constitution provides for separation of powers, but the President wields considerable control over the government and determines national policy priorities. President N. Nazarbayev is a leader of the pro-presidential political party “Nur Otan” that gained 81% of votes in 2012 Parliament elections. The president’s party joined in the new Parliament by two others, the pro-business Ak Zhol party and the Communist People’s Party. The President may veto legislation that has been passed by the Parliament.
The Prime Minister Karim Masimov was appointed by the President and approved by the Parliament as Kazakhstan's head of government in April 2011. The current Government of Respublic of Kazakhstan continues economic reforms and support of non-resources sectors of the economy.
The Parliament of Kazakhstan has a bicameral structure. The Mazhilis (the lower house) is comprised of 107 members that are elected on a regional constituency basis. The Senate is comprised of 47 members, 40 of whom are elected for six-years term in double-seat constituencies by the local assemblies.
Reforms aimed at moving Kazakhstan further toward a full market economy continues. Kazakhstan has undertaken one of the most successful pension reform programmes amongst its peer ‘‘transition economies''. The Agency for Regulation and Supervision of Financial Markets and Financial Organisations of Kazakhstan, which regulates the Kazakhstan financial markets, is implementing EU-harmonised banking regulations (introduction of Basel-2 requirements). Privatisation, liberalisation of capital controls and tax reforms have also made headway. The Government is also moving ahead with the introduction of ‘‘e-government'' (initially in the customs service), which is aimed at stimulating greater public sector transparency.