In power virtually unchallenged since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Nursultan Nazarbayev has focused on economic reform while resisting moves to democratise the political system.
He remains popular among ordinary Kazakhs. His supporters say he preserved inter-ethnic accord and stability during the reform in the 1990s, and is widely credited for the country's impressive economic growth in first decade of the new millennium.
Mr Nazarbayev has concentrated extensive powers in his own hands and is accused by the opposition of suppressing dissent. Although he says he advocates democracy as a long-term goal, he warns that stability could be at risk if change is too swift.
Born in 1940, Mr Nazarbayev came to power in 1989 as first secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan and was elected president the following year. He was re-elected after the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.
In 2005, he won a further seven-year term with more than 90% of the vote in elections that Kazakhstan's weak opposition decried as rigged, and which European observers declared seriously flawed.
In 2007, parliament, in which the ruling party held all seats, voted to allow the president to stay in office for an unlimited number of terms. In 2010, MPs granted Mr Nazarbayev the lifelong title of "leader of the nation".
But judges in 2011 ruled unconstitutional a plan to hold a referendum on whether to let Mr Nazarbayev to stay in power until 2020 without facing election.
The president thereupon said he rejected the changes, which had been strongly backed by MPs and by many voters. Instead, Mr Nazarbauev called early presidential elections for 3 April 2011, which he won. The polls were criticized by international observers.
Observers expected the president to use his new term to groom a successor.
When Mr Nazarbayev does step down from the president, he will have a permanent seat on the defence council and a role as head of the people's assembly, which unites members of different ethnic groups, according to a law approved in a 2007 referendum.
The president merged his Otan ("Fatherland") party with his daughter Dariga's party, Asar, in July 2006, in a move seen as consolidating the president's power. The united party was named Nur Otan ("Ray of light of the fatherland") in honour of Mr Nazarbayev.
- Administrative divisions: This entry generally gives the numbers, designatory terms, and first-order administrative divisions as approved by the US Board on Geographic Names (BGN). Changes that have been reported but not yet acted on by BGN are noted.
- Capital city > Geographic coordinates: This entry gives the name of the seat of government, its geographic coordinates, the time difference relative to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and the time observed in Washington, DC, and, if applicable, information on daylight saving time (DST). Where appropriate, a special note has been added to highlight those countries that have multiple time zones.
- Capital city > Name: This entry gives the name of the seat of government, its geographic coordinates, the time difference relative to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and the time observed in Washington, DC, and, if applicable, information on daylight saving time (DST). Where appropriate, a special note has been added to highlight those countries that have multiple time zones.
- Constitution: The dates of adoption, revisions, and major amendments to a nation's constitution
- Country name > Conventional long form: This entry is derived from Government > Country name, which includes all forms of the country's name approved by the US Board on Geographic Names (Italy is used as an example): conventional long form (Italian Republic), conventional short form (Italy), local long form (Repubblica Italiana), local short form (Italia), former (Kingdom of Italy), as well as the abbreviation. Also see the Terminology note.
- Diplomatic representation from the US > Mailing address: This entry includes the chief of mission, embassy address, mailing address, telephone number, FAX number, branch office locations, consulate general locations, and consulate locations.
- Executive branch > Cabinet: Cabinet includes the official name for any body of high-ranking advisers roughly comparable to a U.S. Cabinet. Also notes the method for selection of members.
- Executive branch > Head of government: Head of government includes the name and title of the top administrative leader who is designated to manage the day-to-day activities of the government. For example, in the UK, the monarch is the chief of state, and the prime minister is the head of government. In the US, the president is both the chief of state and the head of government.
- Government type: A description of the basic form of government (e.g., republic, constitutional monarchy, federal republic, parliamentary democracy, military dictatorship).
- Judicial branch: The name(s) of the highest court(s) and a brief description of the selection process for members.
- Legal system: A brief description of the legal system's historical roots, role in government, and acceptance of International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction.
- Legislative branch: This entry contains information on the structure (unicameral, bicameral, tricameral), formal name, number of seats, and term of office. Elections includes the nature of election process or accession to power, date of the last election, and date of the next election. Election results includes the percent of vote and/or number of seats held by each party in the last election.
- Political parties and leaders: Significant political organizations and their leaders.
- Political pressure groups and leaders: Organizations with leaders involved in politics, but not standing for legislative election.
- Suffrage: The age at enfranchisement and whether the right to vote is universal or restricted
"Kazakhstan Government Stats", NationMaster. Retrieved from http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/Kazakhstan/Government
"Kazakhstan Government Stats, NationMaster." 1991-2014. <http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/Kazakhstan/Government>.
'Kazakhstan Government Stats, NationMaster', <http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/Kazakhstan/Government> [assessed 1991-2014]
"Kazakhstan Government Stats", NationMaster [Internet]. 1991-2014. Avaliable from: <http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/Kazakhstan/Government>.
"Kazakhstan Government Stats", NationMaster. Avaliable at: nationmaster.com. Assessed 1991-2014.
"Kazakhstan Government Stats, NationMaster," http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/Kazakhstan/Government (assessed 1991-2014)
"Kazakhstan Government Stats", NationMaster, http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/Kazakhstan/Government (last visited 1991-2014)
"Kazakhstan Government Stats", NationMaster, http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/Kazakhstan/Government (as of 1991-2014)