Parliamentary Elections, 10 October 2010
Violent protests in early April 2010 led to the ouster of President Bakiev and the dissolution of the previous parliament. A provisional government headed by President Roza Otunbayeva took office in April 2010 and navigated through brief but intense interethnic clashes in June 2010 to organize a referendum on June 27, 2010, by which voters approved a new constitution.
After the dispersion of the Ak Jol party, affiliated with former President Bakiev, the party landscape was no longer dominated by a single party. The provisional government was broadly supported by Ak Shumkar, Ata Meken and SDPK, though not by Ar Namys, which favored a presidential system. New parties representing different interests emerged, including Ata-Jurt and Butun Kyrgyzstan, which considered themselves to be in opposition to the provisional government, and Respublika, which focused on economic issues.
In June, violent clashes between members of the Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities in Osh and Jalal-Abad resulted in a high number of casualties and displaced citizens. On 27 June, the authorities succeeded in creating the necessary conditions for the conduct of a peaceful constitutional referendum despite the challenging circumstances following the tragic events. The OSCE/ODIHR provided a cautiously optimistic assessment of the constitutional referendum despite evident shortcomings. The new Constitution introduced a semi-parliamentary system of government and increased the number of parliamentary seats from 90 to 120. Members of parliament are elected for a fiveyear term through a proportional party list system within a single nation-wide constituency.
On 10 August, President Otunbaeva announced that elections to the Jogorku Kenesh (parliament) would be held on 10 October. Key members of the provisional government who decided to run for election left their posts, so as to avoid conflicts of interest. The referendum also confirmed Otunbayeva as President until December 31, 2011.
Some actors, notably the Mayor of Osh, Melis Myrzakmatov, continued to question the legitimacy of the provisional government. Political tensions remained high and there were some attempts by politicians to destabilize the situation. The overall security situation remained tense, especially in the South.
The 2010 constitution is intended to limit presidential power and enhance the role of parliament and the prime minister. The elections were highly competitive and peaceful, Five parties entered parliament, led by the Ata Jurt party (28 seats), and followed by the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (26 seats), Ar-Namys (25 seats), Respublika (23 seats) and Ata-Meken (18 seats). Three parties (Ata Jurt, SDPK, and Respublika) formed a governing coalition with Almazbek Atambayev as prime minister.
These parliamentary elections constituted a further consolidation of the democratic process. Political pluralism, a vibrant campaign and confidence in the Central Commission for Elections and Referenda (CEC) characterized the elections. The authorities displayed the political will to hold democratic elections in line with OSCE commitments. Nevertheless, there is an urgent need for profound electoral legal reform.
To gain seats in Parliament, a political party had to surpass a 5 percent national and 0.5 percent regional threshold, both calculated against the number of registered voters rather than based on turnout. Though originally designed with the intention to stabilize the country, the unusual regional threshold compromises the objective of proportional representation. The provision introduced by the new Constitution limiting a single political party to 65 seats, notwithstanding the number of votes received, challenges the free expression of the will of the people but can, on the other hand, be seen as a transitory measure to build a pluralistic parliament.
The CEC operated independently from government and partisan interests, and made efforts to replicate this in lower-level election commissions. The CEC generally worked in a collegial and transparent manner and earned the trust of election stakeholders. Despite a shortage of staff, the CEC generally performed its duties satisfactorily and within legal deadlines. The quality and accuracy of voter lists remain a serious concern. Due to a lack of national or regional cross checks, the lists contained many duplicates. At the same time, population figures seem to suggest that not all eligible voters are registered to vote.
The State-funded media met their legal obligations to provide free airtime and print space to all contestants. Political debates broadcast on national TV provided voters with an opportunity to compare platforms and the views of different candidates. The media, however, otherwise did not cover the campaign except through exclusively broadcasting paid political advertising, including during news programs. Only the national broadcaster clearly separated purchased airtime from its news and information programs and labeled it as such, in line with good international practices. The available information allowed voters to form opinions on political alternatives; however, their ability to make a fully informed choice was impaired by the broadcasting of exclusively partisan information and the subsequent lack of impartial and analytical editorial information about the campaign.
On election day, the atmosphere was calm and voting proceeded in an orderly and transparent manner throughout the country. Overall, international observers assessed the voting process positively, but gave a significantly less positive assessment of the counting of votes and tabulation of results.
On 1 November, the CEC announced the final results and confirmed that five parties had passed the thresholds to attain seats in parliament. All appeals against the final results were dismissed by the courts. Following the post-election resignations of 7 candidates that won seats, the new parliament convened with 28 female members (23.33 percent) and 14 (11.66 per cent) members belonging to a national minority.
On 10 November, the newly elected Supreme Council held its first session. The following day, Transitional President Otunbayeva tasked the Democratic Party with forming a coalition government. On 29 November, the Social Democratic Party (26 seats), Ata-Merken (18 seats) and Respublika (23 seats) announced that they would try to form a coalition. However, they were reportedly divided over the candidacy for the speakership. On 2 December, their sole candidate - Ata-Meken party leader Omurbek Tekebaev - failed to win election as Speaker with 58 votes for, 59 votes against. On 7 December, Transitional President Otunbayeva invited Respublika party leader Omurbek Babanov to form a government.
On 16 December, Respublika, Ata-Jurt (28 seats) and the Social Democratic Party (26 seats) agreed to form a new government. The following day, the Supreme Council elected Mr. Ahmatbek Keldibekov (Ata-Jurt) as its new Speaker and Mr. Almazbek Atambayev (Social Democratic Party) as the new Prime Minister. On 20 December, Acting President Otunbaeva swore in the new government.
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