The Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan was approved through a national referendum in August 1995 and ratified the following month, replacing an earlier “Soviet-style” constitution which was adopted in the wake of independence from the Soviet Union. The Constitution provides for a democratic, secular state and a presidential system of rule. State governance is divided among the executive, legislative and judicial branches, with the President being considered the head of state.
In October 1998, the Constitution was amended to provide for a seven-year presidential term. The first presidential election under the amended constitution was held in January 1999 and resulted in the election of President Nazarbayev to the first seven-year term; the second election took place in December 2005. In May 2007, in accordance with the Organization for the Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Constitution was amended to allow only two terms for a president and reduced the presidential term from seven to five years. This amendment also allowed for more accountability within the Executive Branch as a result of new powers granted to Parliament. Additional outcomes of these reforms include proportional representation to elect members of the Majilis (Lower House) and a party-based parliamentary system.