Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Kyrgyzstan - bastion of democracy or fragmented ungovernable mess?

In post Soviet politics, one man’s ‘vibrant democracy’ is another man’s ‘fragmented, ungovernable mess‘.  Kyrgyzstan held its first election under the country’s new parliamentary constitution on Sunday and the result makes Ukraine look like a straightforward two party system.

These elections, which are being reported as free and fair, were an upshot of the ’revolution’ which ousted President Bakiyev.

If the poll had a victor, however, it was the party sympathetic to the previous regime, Ata-Jurt, which came out top.  A proportional cohort of its candidates will take their place in the new parliament, alongside representatives from 5 other groups, which cleared the 5% threshold.

Each of the ‘successful’ parties polled between 7.24% and 8.88% of the total vote.  That, of course, means that almost two thirds of the electorate cast a ballot for candidates from groups which did not make it into Parliament.                

The provisional President, Rosa Otubayeva, has the formidable task of patching together a coalition.  Under the new constitution a new prime minister is required to be in place 30 days after vote counting is complete.

Whatever government emerges from this election, it is unlikely to be particularly stable.  One school of thought holds that it is better to have Ata-Jurt inside the administration, or at least inside the Parliament, rather than forming a disillusioned rump outside.

Whether that analysis holds, or whether southern Kyrgyzstan remains a potential rallying point for future 'counter revolution', remains to be seen.

Previously the Tulip Revolution was misinterpreted as a victory for the forces of democracy, rather than the result of tribal politics, and it yielded Bakiyev's regime.  Now, the same cheerleaders appear to be championing a 'one size fits all' approach to the Kyrgyz government.  For the sake of regional stability, we must hope their judgement is sounder this time round.

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