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In March 2019, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev assumed the presidency through a meticulously orchestrated succession, pledging to advance political liberalization and foster greater responsiveness among Kazakh state officials to the concerns of ordinary citizens. Against the backdrop of election protests in June 2019, the nation’s second President introduced the transformative “Listening State” reform, marking a significant departure from the hardline autocracy that characterized his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev’s 28-year rule.

 

The events of Bloody January (Qandy Qantar) in 2022 brought attention to issues of economic inequality and poverty, prompting a shift in focus from the “Listening State” to the “Just Kazakhstan” reform package. The subsequent government agenda for 2022–2023 emphasized constitutional changes, economic initiatives supporting populism, and the reclamation of assets from oligarchs by the state. Despite these changes, the demand for a responsive and genuinely open government persists in the post-conflict landscape of the country.



Five years after the initiation of the Listening State reforms, numerous questions linger. In this event, four experts will analyze and discuss the prospects for open government in Kazakhstan, offering a critical assessment of the extent and limitations of the materialization of Tokayev’s Listening State reform.

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