After Karimov and Nazarbayev: change in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan?

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Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have new leaders for the first time since 1989: Shavkat Mirziyoyev as Uzbek president and Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as Kazakh president. This article uses a theoretical framework based on the literatures of leadership change and political succession while overlaying this literature with the type of economic policies followed by each former leader to analyse the political and economic transitions in these countries. Mirziyoyev has legitimized his authority, even though he was not part of the elite, through reforms designed to help the people (as Karimov had envisioned in the ‘Uzbek way’). In contrast, Nazarbayev’s policies were centred around the state as a facilitator of economic development, a problem for citizens in an economic downturn. While Tokayev transitioned through a formal electoral process, his was a ‘managed’ designation, with the charismatic leader still in a formal position of power, leaving Tokayev without a separate base of legitimacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-196
Number of pages18
JournalCentral Asian Survey
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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