Ak Zhol Party 

Website: http://www.akzhol.kz/ 
Chairman: Azat Turlybekuly Peruashev
 
The Ak Zhol ("Bright Path") party joined the parliament of Kazakhstan after winning 7.48 percent of the vote in the January 15, 2012 parliamentary election. The party has eight seats in the lower house of parliament and 175,862 members according to the Central Election Commission. 

Brief History and Major Highlights:

The Ak Zhol party has its roots in the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DCK) civic group. Soon after the DCK was formed in 2001, it called for the decentralization of political authority (via the direct election of regional governors), a strong legislature, and an independent judiciary to balance the power concentrated in the presidency. It failed to gain legal recognition, and many associated with the movement withdrew from public life. In January 2002 a group of DCK members broke off to form the more moderate "constructive opposition" party Ak Zhol that was prepared to work with the government. The party was registered on April 3, 2002. 
 
Ak Zhol participated in the 2004 parliamentary election, receiving 12.04 percent of the vote according to official data. The party claimed that the vote was flawed. It received a total of two mandates in the parliament, but one of the co-chairmen of the party, Alikhan Baymenov, refused to take up his seat to protest the vote, leaving the party holding just one seat. Another co-chairman, Altynbek Sarsenbayev, who was the minister of information, resigned, saying that he could no longer serve in the government. 
 
Another split occurred in early 2005 over whether the party should participate in the "Coordination Council of Democratic Forces," a coalition of democratic parties that hoped to challenge the ruling Nur Otan party in the presidential elections. Sarsenbayev, who wanted Ak Zhol to join the council, was ousted from the position of co-chairman in February 2005 by a vote of no confidence. The following month, the party split and the Ak Zhol members most associated with the opposition, including Sarsenbayev, formed the "True Ak Zhol" party. In Ak Zhol, the position of "co-chairman" was eliminated in favor of a single chairman, and former co-chairman Baymenov was elected to the post. In the December 4, 2005 presidential election Baymenov received 1.61 percent of the vote. 
 
At a party congress in late September 2006, Ak Zhol opted to take its parliamentary seat, reversing its earlier decision and making Baymenov the only representative of the opposition in parliament. Ak Zhol and another opposition party, Adilet, briefly merged in 2007, but after Ak Zhol's poor showing in the 2007 parliamentary election, Adilet left the union. Ak Zhol did not participate in the February 2011 presidential election. 
 
Azat Peruashev was selected to be chairman of the Ak Zhol party in November 2011 and earned a seat in the parliament in the January 2012 election along with seven other party members. Peruashev was previously the chairman of the Atameken Union National Economic Forum of Kazakhstan, a nonprofit union of entrepreneurs and employers; he also served as a member of the president's council of entrepreneurs. A former member of the Nur Otan party, he joined the Ak Zhol party in July 2011. 

Party Platform:

The party aims to build an independent, prosperous, democratic, and free Kazakhstan, and it lists its core values as democracy, independence, freedom, and justice. The party is considered to be pro-business and part of the "constructive opposition." 
 
Dignified Work and Salaries: 
  • Lower corporate taxes
  • Simplify registration of new businesses
  • Minimize the types of activities requiring licenses 
  • Legally forbid akims (heads of local governments) to create structures that interfere in business
  • Increase punishment for corporate raiding using government structures
  • Ensure the inviolability of property rights
  • Ensure transparency of government contracts and sales
  • Create a network of professional technical education, technical universities, and courses
  • Legally increase the role of unions and collective bargaining
  • Raise the minimum wage. 
Quality of Human Resources: 
  • Increase spending on education, health care, and the sciences
  • Build hospitals and clinics for all citizens, not just those in the capital
  • Increase the average wage of teachers and doctors
  • Create and institute a program of training and retraining for doctors and teachers domestically and abroad
  • Create a program to provide housing to teachers and doctors
  • Create a network of kindergartens and ensure attendance by at least 50 percent of children under the age of six
  • Increase the size of welfare payments on the loss of a provider and injury
  • Earmark 100 billion tenge for the Clean Drinking Water Program. 
Dignified and Affordable Housing: 
  • Build communal housing for young families and specialists as well as for low-income families and people moving from villages in search of work
  • Upon the allocation of land in prestigious areas to construction companies, require that they build inexpensive communal and social housing on given tracts
  • Lower the cost of housing by requiring that akims only sell land for housing construction through open auctions
  • Require builders to acquire materials and services on a competitive-bid basis
  • Stimulate the building of rental properties
  • Provide for discounts on mortgages per child with the government paying off the mortgages of families having at least four children.
Dignified Life for Rural Residents: 
  • Ensure telephone connections of all villages as well as access to the Internet and mobile connections
  • Elevate the prestige of the work of teachers, doctors, and cultural workers in villages
  • Open medical and obstetric clinics in all villages
  • Repair local roads
  • Ensure better targeting of subsidies for agriculture
  • Make special financing for advanced technology available for every farmer. 
Culture and Spirituality: 
  • Create government culture and enlightenment television channels
  • Produce domestic cultural and educational information programs
  • Pnsure the protection of copyrights for authors, scientists, and cultural figures
  • Create and finance a special children's literature program
  • Create and broadcast government public service announcements
  • Forbid direct and indirect advertisement of tobacco and alcohol
  • Increase the penalties for selling narcotics. 
Equality Before the Law and the Fight Against Corruption: 
  • Institute direct election of akims
  • Increase the role of parliament and local government bodies in government administration
  • Institute accountability of the prosecutor general, government auditors, and representative on human rights to the Mazhilis
  • Eliminate the financial police; ensure the material, technical, and staffing independence of judges from the state
  • Institute elections for city and regional judges
  • Abolish perks for elected officials
  • Immediately institute a general declaration of income
  • Ensure the transparency of customs, tax inspection, and police.