Unexpected alliances

Reminder that every vote counts. Credits: tgeu.org

Reminder that every vote counts. Credits: tgeu.org

Parliamentary election campaign in Kyrgyzstan starts on 4 September

On 25 August the Central Election Commission registered the list of the 14 political parties which had succeeded in providing all the required documents and paying the election fee of 5 million Kyrgyz soms ($325,000) by the deadline. Elections in the Zhogorku Kenesh, the Kyrgyz parliament, are scheduled for 4 October. They work according to a proportional system. Mandates in the 120-seat parliament are divided between parties which attain at least 7% of the vote. The chief intrigue even before the election campaign has been the unexpected political alliance of its participants.

All of the parties renewed their ranks thanks to new members from other party unifications who were joining them on the eve of the elections for various reasons. In several instances this was in line with the desire to strengthen the image of the party. In other cases, the parties, lacking adequate finances but being popular enough, had to merge with more robust party associations. And, in the end, almost all parties paid careful attention to maintaining within their ranks the regional balance between north and south – the traditional problem inherent to every election. The lists were reshuffled so that the key figures in them included representatives from different regions.

"All power to the Soviets!", claims Ata Meken

“All power to the Soviets!”, claims Ata Meken. Credits: party’s website

The socialist party Ata Meken (“Fatherland”) is the oldest party in independent Kyrgyzstan. Omurbek Tekebaev has headed it since 1994. Members of this party are participants of the two revolutions  (2005 and 2010).

The leader of a different political association, Kuchtuu Kyrgyzstan, recently joined the party. This is Aida Salyanova, the former prosecutor general who resigned in winter because of, in her words, “various political intrigues” (in an interview with News-Asia). She is No. 4 on the Ata Meken list. Ata Meken had previously formed an alliance with the party Uluttar Birimdigi, led by Melis Myrzakmatov, the ex-mayor of Osh who was charged with corruption and sentenced in absentia to 7 years in prison by the Osh City Court. He is currently wanted.

The socialists’ electoral platform offers a number of incremental measures for reforming public administration under the slogan “All Power to the Soviets!”, decentralisation and decriminalisation of the state, restoration of social justice and public services, support for the cooperative movement, and fighting corruption.

Bir Bol runs the campaign under the motto "We are different. We are together". Credits: party's website

Bir Bol runs the campaign under the motto “We are different. We are together”. Credits: party’s website

The party for state unity and patriotism Bir Bol (“Stay United”) has united many influential politicians and wealthy people. By current assessments, its serious financial and intellectual resources will allow the party to garner broad electoral support. At the head of this list is Myktybek Abdyldaev, until recently the leader of the parliamentary faction of a different party – Ata Jurt – but who joined Bir Bol just before these elections.

Bir Bol recently presented its electoral programme under the names of “Leopard’s Leap” and “Common Sense Platform” at its congress. Primary emphasis was given in it to strengthening the civil peace and political stability. The party offers a strategic action plan for supporting local producers and the flow of goods and capital into the EEU. While introducing the programme, former minister Akylbek Japarov mentioned that the party is “ready to take responsibility” for the implementation of specific actions in the interests of Kyrgyzstan. He promised to lower the unemployment rate and GDP growth. (24.kg)

Members of the party list. Credits: Courtesy Photo

Members of the party list. Credits: Courtesy Photo

The once popular liberal-centrist party Ar Namys (“Dignity”) are now in the middle of a crisis, so just prior to the lists being drawn up and registered with the CEC many of its members fled to other political movements. Ar Namys is headed to the elections under the leadership of Felix Kulov, general, former law enforcement officer, leader of a faction of the same name and chairman of the ruling coalition in the current parliament. This party with a strong pro-Russian orientation was suddenly joined by politicians with opposing views: Kubatbek Baibolov, former deputy, prosecutor general and businessman; Ravshan Jeenbekov, leader of the parliamentary opposition bloc; and Omurbek Abdyrakhmanov, a businessman and politician with liberal views.

According to Felix Kulov, party members will unveil its strategy with the start of election campaign activities in September. Ar Namys positions itself as the party that “can restore order to the country” (its program states).

Social Democrats, led by the president, are among the favorites. Credits: party's website

Social Democrats, led by the president, are among the favorites. Credits: party’s website

The Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) is a political unification with an over 20-year history. The current president of the country Almazbek Atambayev initiated the creation of this party. Its goal is that “every citizen must feel freedom of choice, that their property and  rights are protected, and that they can raise children with dignity”. The fight against corruption was also a priority. In July the SDPK presented a youth support programme, proposing to increase the salaries of schoolteachers, adopt a new codex on children, and create 100,000 jobs in order to curb the growth of labour force migration (kloop.kg).

There are many new faces in the electoral list who came to the SDPK from other parties. The leader of the SDPK faction in parliament, Chinibay Tursunbekov, said at the party congress that “above all, we called those who had already come forward in cooperation with us in the current parliament, supporting our ideas, sometimes even in spite of the position of their own factions” (24.kg).

Unification congress of Respublika and Ata Jurt. Credits: screenshot from a 7tv report

Unification congress of Respublika and Ata Jurt. Credits: screenshot from a 7tv report

Respublika-Ata Jurt is a political bloc formed from two former opponents – the liberals and nationalists – united in the name of, as they say, “the country’s stability and prosperity”.  Both parties are represented in the current parliament. The leaders of the bloc are former prime minister and powerful businessmen Omurbek Babanov and former deputy Kamchibek Tashiev, who lost their mandates after being accused of attempting to overthrow the government but were redeemed early of their convictions.

The electoral programme of this combined party has not yet been publicised. It is likely to include proposals to amend the constitution and a scheme for modernizing the country’s government, which the party members voiced at their last congress. Respublika’s liberal orientation is based on the defence of the interests of entrepreneurs, and Ata Jurt is famous as a moderate nationalist party standing for increasing “Kyrgyz responsibility” and patriotism. The conglomerate will also be reflected in the joint election platform.

Leaders of Butun Kyrgyzstan Emgek meet with the electorate. Credits: party's website

Leaders of Butun Kyrgyzstan Emgek meet with the electorate. Credits: party’s website

The political party Butun Kyrgyzstan Emgek (“United Kyrgyzstan and the Labour Party”) is a block composed of two parties which came together 4 months before the start of the active electoral race. It proclaims economic development for the country and supremacy of the law. The party’s leaders are former speaker Adakhan Madumarov and co-owner of the largest markets of “Dordoi” Askar Salymbekov. They embody an alliance of the financial resources of the representative of the northern regions and the political capital of the southern.

In an interview with Europe Insight, Emil Juraev of the American University in Central Asia said that the consolidation of the political parties is a “momentary alliance” but it will give them the chance to get into parliament thanks to the image turned out by the party or the personalities with whom they will enter the elections. According to the political scientist, the electoral platform does not play a particularly important role here. “The parties have not presented systematically worked out programmes created on the basis of in-depth analysis,” he emphasised.

Other parties

Falling into this category are the 8 remaining parties: the Democratic Party AZATTYK, preparing to present an anti-crisis programme; Fnuguu-Progress, which indicated in its electoral programme the goal of building an “independent, flourishing, democratic and free Kyrgyzstan, a country capable of preserving its integrity and unity”; the Conservative Democratic Party Meken Yntymagy with comparable goals and objectives; Aalam Party of Non-Partisans; Kyrgyzstan; Uluu Kyrgyzstan; the Congress of the Peoples of Kyrgyzstan; and, closing the list, the National Revival Party Zamandash (“Contemporary”), formed in the early 2000s by representatives of the Association of Kyrgyz Diaspora in Russia and Kazakhstan, which fights for the rights of labour migrants. In its programme, it sees the chief strategic objective of the state to now be nation forming.

Experts predict that the real struggle will actually play out between several well-known parties. The others simply lack the resources to overcome the electoral barrier. “The struggle for seats will unfold between 3-4 parties/alliances and the difference will be in their attitude to the party in power,” notes political scientist Medet Tulegenov. “And those political organisations that are trying to be oppositional, like Ata Jurt in 2010, will meet with difficulties.” (24.kg)

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