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Sociological survey reveals popular vision of Kazakhstan's national idea

28 February 2011 12:26
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ASTANA. February 28. KAZINFORM What is a national idea? Why does it play a powerful role in the social, political and economic development of the country? What do the people of Kazakhstan understand as a "national idea" itself and is there any in Kazakhstan at all? Many Kazakh political scientists, culture experts, psychologists and sociologists have been seeking the answers to these questions for the last few years.

Sanzhar Bokayev, senior researcher at the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies, presented his understanding of the issue in an extensive survey research, published recently in the "Qazyna" on-line magazine.

Held as part of a project "National Idea of Kazakhstan" by the Institute of Political Solutions, the public opinion poll questioned 15,881 respondents aged 18 and older. The poll was conducted in all administrative centres of Kazakhstan, including Almaty and the country's capital Astana.

One of the key questions the survey addressed was, "What should be the ultimate goal of Kazakhstan which would unite its people?" The answer was surprisingly consolidated: 53.4 percent of respondents said it was economic prosperity, 23.1 percent believed in the power of stability and 23 percent mentioned eliminating corruption.

According to the poll, family turned out to be of the highest value for the Kazakh society, drawing the support as such of almost 47 percent of respondents. It is followed by welfare and good governance (23%), as well as stability and independence, for each one of them was acknowledged by 20% of respondents. The ranking of values has no particular differences in ethnic identity and regional background, the research says.

Nevertheless, minor controversies occur among different age groups. Thus, young people attach some special significance to the concepts of "love", "patriotism", and "independence", while the older generation ranks "family", "home", and "security" first.

The research has also revealed some gender differences in people's perception of values. Answering the question "What is the most important thing for you, personally?" women, more often than men, mentioned confidence in the future of their children, access to the education and medical services of high quality, along with stability and security. Men mostly fixed upon freedom, democratic development and a state governed by the rule of law.

In addition, the essence of a national idea is seen by the Kazakh society through the lens of constructive and creative values. For instance, nearly 18% of the population formulates their national idea for Kazakhstan as "the land of peace and harmony", other 13% of respondents call it "our common home", while 13.7% call it "the land of justice, freedom and solidarity".

Conditions which would favour a national idea's proper implementation include equality before the law (58%), improvement of living standards in the country (46%), credibility of the government (42%), and efficient public administration (35%).

Apparently, Bokayev contends, the national idea somehow implies common views of the vast majority of the population, high awareness of steps required for social development, economic and political priorities, as well as confidence in governmental regime and better understanding of its role.

In order to create a powerful national idea that would help in facing modern challenges, it is insufficient to base upon the government, people and national attributes, he says. The country should also have clear goals, the political will of the government and efficient political system functioning.

The research revealed the core elements of Kazakhstan's national idea, formulated by the majority of respondents, are the shared values of peace, harmony, social equality, stability, and high living standards. It also revealed that the national idea itself should embrace economic prosperity, security and the rule of law, press service of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry reports.

In the respondents' opinion, the same values form an indispensable condition for the consolidation of the Kazakh people into a single nation. People of various demographic, social and professional groups have similar understanding of Kazakhstan's national idea, which may serve as a basis for building a new ideology for the country.

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Zhanna Nurmaganbetova

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