THE KAZAKHSTAN SENATE
I - COMPOSITION
39 members of whom:
ð 32 are elected by indirect ballot, on the basis of two for each of the 14 regions (Oblystar) and local authorities of Astana (the country's official capital since December 1997) and Almaty;
ð 7 appointed by the President of the Republic.
Former Presidents of the Republic are automatically senators for life.
II - ELECTORAL SYSTEM
Method of voting
Election local assemblies in the 14 regions and the two local authorities, each of which elects two senators.
Two-ballot majority voting.
Term of office (elected seats): six years; half are renewable every three years (i.e. half the seats in each `oblast' and local authority are renewed).
Nominated senators remain in office for the period of the Parliamentary session.
Most recent election: September 1999.
Criteria for eligibility: minimum age 30 years; Kazakh nationality for more than five years; higher education level, and working experience of at least five years.
III - ORGANISATION OF SESSIONS
A - ORDINARY SESSION
One session per year running from the first working day of September to the last working day of June.
B - EXTRAORDINARY SESSIONS
On his own initiative, or on that of the Presidents of both assemblies or of at least one third of members of the Parliament, the President of the Republic may convene an extraordinary session of the Parliament to deal with an agreed agenda.
IV - RELATIONS WITH THE OTHER CHAMBER AND THE EXECUTIVE
A - LEGISLATIVE POWER
1) The right to propose legislation
This right lies with senators, deputies and the Government, but bills may only be lodged with the Majilis (National Assembly). Draft legislation providing for a reduction in resources or an increase in Government expenditure must obtain the Government's prior agreement.
2) Right of amendment
This right lies with the Senate.
3) Legislative procedure
a) Ordinary procedure
Draft laws are initially examined by the Majilis, and are then presented to the Senate, which has a maximum of 60 days in which to examine it further.
If the draft law is entirely rejected by the Senate, it returns to the Majilis. If the National Assembly adopts the bill by a two-thirds majority, it is forwarded to the Senate for a second reading. Draft laws that are rejected twice may not be re-presented during that session.
If the Senate amends the bill by a majority of members, these alterations are presented to the Majilis. If it is adopted by a majority of the members, the text is then adopted in full. However, if the Majilis opposes the Senate's amendments by the same majority, the bill is covered by conciliation procedures.
b) Taking full responsibility for a bill
If a Government bill is not adopted, the Prime Minister may, during a joint meeting of the two chambers, call for a vote of confidence. The vote must take place within 48 hours of the matter being raised. If the vote of confidence is not rejected by the required majority, the draft law is deemed to have been adopted.
The Government may not utilise this right more than twice a year.
c) Veto of the President of the Republic
Within 15 days of a draft law being forwarded by the Senate for promulgation, the President of the Republic may return all or part of it for a second reading.
The two chambers must hold a joint meeting within one month. Failure to comply with this time-limit is tantamount to approval of the President's objections.
If two thirds of all members of each assembly confirm the decision they reached at the first reading within seven days, the President signs the law.
If the President's objections are not overcome, the law is deemed to be either non-adopted, or else adopted in the version proposed by the President.
4) Legislative changes demanded by the President of the Republic
The President of the Republic may call for a priority or immediate review of a draft law. In such circumstances, the Parliament may conduct this review within one month of the request being made.
If the Parliament does not comply with this request, the President implement it by a decree that has the force of law until the Parliament adopts a new law.
5) Delegated legislation
At the President's initiative, and with a two-thirds majority of all members of the two chambers, the Parliament may delegate legislative powers to the President for a period not exceeding one year.
B - SUPERVISORY POWERS
1) Appointment of the Prime Minister
Both chambers meeting jointly give their agreement to the President of the Republic's nomination of Prime Minister.
2) Vote of confidence and motion of censure
The two chambers meeting jointly:
- approve or reject the Government's programme presented to them by the Prime Minister within a month of his appointment; a further rejection of the programme, presented within two months and with a two-thirds majority of the members of each chamber, is equivalent to a vote of distrust (vote of confidence). If the Government programme is not rejected, it is automatically approved;
- table votes of distrust (votes of confidence) on the proposal of one fifth of all members in the Parliament (in cases set out in the Constitution, by a vote of two thirds of the members in each assembly).
In such circumstances, the Government presents its resignation to the President of the Republic, who accepts or rejects it within ten days.
3) Right to set up Commissions of Inquiry
4) Monitoring members of the Government
On the proposal of at least one third of the senators, the Senate may hear reports from ministers on their work and, by a majority vote of two thirds of senators, call on the President of the Republic to dismiss a minister who does not abide by the laws of the Republic.
If the President of the Republic does not agree to their request, senators may, by at least a two-thirds majority of Senate members, call once again for the minister's dismissal six months from the date of their initial attempt. In these circumstances, the President must dismiss the member of the government.
5) Implementation of the budget
The Government presents the Parliament with a report on the implementation of the budget, and guarantees it.
C - DISSOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT
The President of the Republic may dissolve Parliament:
- when he has tabled a vote of mistrust in the Government;
- when he has delayed his decision on the appointment of the Prime Minister on two occasions;
- when a political crisis derives from insurmountable disagreements between the two chambers of the Parliament, or between the Parliament and other branches of the executive.
The Parliament may not be dissolved during a state of emergency or when martial law is in force, during the last six months of the President's term of office, or within a year.
V - SPECIAL MEASURES
A - CHANGES TO THE CONSTITUTION
The two chambers of the Parliament meeting in joint session present changes to the Constitution on the proposal of the President of the Republic.
Changes to the Constitution must obtain the votes of at least three quarters of the members of both assemblies.
They may be ratified by a referendum organised following a decision of the President of the Republic, or on a proposal of the Parliament or the Government.
If the President rejects a demand for the constitutional reform of the Parliament before a referendum is held, the Parliament may, by a majority of at least four fifths of all members of reach assembly, adopt a law that incorporates the requested changes into the Constitution. In such circumstances, the President of the Republic either signs the law, or has the changes determined by a referendum: the results are validated if over half the electorate vote.
The changes are adopted if over half the voters approve of them.
B - MATTERS RELATING TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
1) Circumstances in which the post of the President of the Republic falls vacant
In the event of the President's premature departure or his death, his duties are carried out (until the end of his term of office) by the President of the Senate or, in his absence, by the President of the Majilis and then the Prime Minister.
2) Incapacity of the President
In the event of the President's incapacity through illness, a Parliamentary commission is set up consisting equally of deputies and senators on the one hand, and of medical specialists on the other.
His removal from office takes place in a joint meeting of the two assemblies by a majority of at least three quarters of all members of the two assemblies, and on the basis of the conclusions of the Parliamentary commission (see below) and of the Constitutional Council concerning the regularity of the procedure.
3) The President's responsibilities
The President is only responsible for acts committed during his term of office in cases of high treason.
After the Majilis has voted for proceedings to be brought, charges are laid by the Senate which, by a majority of its members, presents the conclusions of the inquiry to the two assemblies meeting jointly. The final decision, which takes account of the Supreme Court's opinion on the validity of the charges, and that of the Constitutional Court concerning the regularity of the procedure, is adopted by a majority of at least three quarters of the members in each assembly.
Failure to reach a decision within two months of the proceedings being brought implies their rejection.
4) A proposal to remove the President from office may not be implemented when the President is examining a bill to bring the Parliament's mandate to a premature conclusion.
C - JUDICIAL POWERS
1) The President and members of the Constitutional Court may not, except in cases of flagrante delicto and serious crimes, be arrested, prosecuted or found guilty of criminal acts without the Parliament's permission.
2) The General Prosecutor may neither be arrested or subjected to administrative sanctions imposed by a judicial procedure, nor tried in the criminal courts without the consent of the Senate, except in cases of flagrante delicto and serious crimes.
3) The Senate alone is competent to deprive the following of their immunity:
- the General Prosecutor;
- the President and judges of the Supreme Court.
D - APPOINTMENTS
1) Constitutional Court
The President of the Senate appoints two members of the Constitutional Court.
2) Supreme Court
The President of the Supreme Court and the Presidents of Commissions of the Court are elected by the Senate at a request of the President of the Republic based on recommendations of the High Judicial Council.
The same provisions apply to their removal from office.
3) General Prosecutor
The Senate authorises the appointment (by the President of the Republic) of the General Prosecutor.
4) High Judicial Council
The Senate appoints two of its members to the High Judicial Council.
5) National Security Council
The Senate authorises the appointment (by the President of the Republic) of the President of the National Security Council.
6) Central Bank
The Senate authorises the appointment (by the President of the Republic) of the President of the Central Bank.
7) Commission of Accounts
Both the Senate and the Majilis appoint three members of the Commission of Accounts for the control and operation of the budget for a five-year term.
E - REFERENCE TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL
The Council may, at the request of the President of the Republic, have matters referred to it by the President of the Senate, one fifth of all members of the Parliament, the President of the Majilis and the Prime Minister.
F - LOCAL ADMINISTRATION
The Senate alone is competent to diminish the powers of local assemblies.