Drivers say ‘yes’ to opposition?
Today the “Union of the Right”, a public association of owners of right-hand drive vehicles, released a statement in support of the opposition party that is challenging the ruling “Nur Otan” party on the parliamentary elections this August.
The movement’s chairman Anatoly Ahmetov and the only signee of the statement says that when the ban on Japanese cars was introduced in violation of economic rights of the citizens, he “realized that only opposition can help the common people in solving this problem”. The movement was quite active in organizing protest actions, flashmobs and petitions, and sought support from all parties, but “only opposition parties – Alga [unregistered] and Social Democrats gave us a hand”, Ahmetov says.
Earlier this month, the Kazakh Ministry of Interior withdrew its draft law banishing use of right-hand drive vehicles. Opinions of the observers have divided – some believe it was a consequence of protests and institutional support of the opposition, while others see it as a wicked game, orchestrated by the authorities to shift the focus of public opinion from other problems (like failure of getting the OSCE chairmanship or constitutional amendments). The second variant is quite possible – use of “a weapon of mass distraction” could remain instrumental up until 2010, when the ban was to take effect.
The whole story could have taught us a lesson that people get more politically awared and active in civic terms when they face injustice personally. “If you are not dealing with the politics, then some day it will start dealing with you”. Most likely, the Kazakh row over right-hand drive vehicles is a quite precise illustration to this aphorism.
On the other hand, Ahmetov’s call to join the All National Social Democratic party and support it on the upcoming elections will hardly bring many owners of Japanese cars to the opposition – not only because he is not a kind of person to lead the masses, but because joining parties and even participation in the elections is too much for the Kazakhstanis, who mostly don’t believe neither politics nor elections.