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Parliamentary Elections, 4 October 2015

On 25 July 2015, President Almazbek Atambayev called parliamentary elections for 4 October. The elections took place in a political environment that is, in part, characterized by an ongoing debate about the country’s future political structure. The 2010 Constitution provides for a semiparliamentary system with a directly elected president and a government led by a prime minister nominated by the parliamentary majority and appointed by the president. However, discussions continue among political elites about returning to a presidential system, with more executive power concentrated in the president’s office, or moving towards a purely parliamentary system. Although parliament’s authority to amend the Constitution is restricted by law until 2020, several members of parliament (MPs), as well as President Atambayev, have voiced support for constitutional amendments through a referendum. Such initiatives have been met by criticism from some political parties and segments of civil society. The elections were keenly contested. The main parties mounted highly visible campaigns throughout the country, while parties with more limited resources intensified their campaign activities only during the later stages of the campaign period. The campaign was conducted in a generally peaceful environment, with few incidents noted. The President was highly visible during the campaign and the campaign-silence period. In a positive development, misuse of state administrative resources did not appear to be a major concern in these elections. However, allegations of vote-buying were widespread, and some criminal investigations were launched.

The media provided contestants with a platform to present their views. Contestants made extensive use of political advertisements and direct debates between candidates enabled voters to familiarize themselves with the candidates. The limited coverage of the campaign by the majority of media outlets in their news and current affairs programmes, as well as a lack of investigative and analytical reporting, significantly reduced the amount of impartial information available to voters. The lack of editorial coverage of contestants and the campaign contrasted sharply with the extensive positive coverage of the president and other state officials in all state-financed media.

The elections were characterized by a lively campaign, but the amount of impartial information available to voters in the news was limited. While the use of new voting technologies, signalling the political will to improve elections, was in many respects successful, the hurried introduction of biometric registration resulted in significant problems with the inclusiveness of the voter list. This, concerns over ballot secrecy, and significant procedural problems during the vote count were the main issues that tarnished what was a generally smooth election day”.

Around half of the country's 5.8 million people were eligible to vote on 04 October 2015. In the decade since the so-called Tulip Revolution ousted a Soviet-holdover president, the Kyrgyz social and political landscape has experienced periodic convulsions. But the country has also clung to democracy and a free press sufficiently to remain a bright spot in a region otherwise populated by authoritarian and dynastic governments. These parliamentary elections feature 14 political parties competing for all 120 seats in the Supreme Council.

The Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) was expected to fare well, due to people's tendency to associate the Social Democrats with President Almazbek Atambaev, though he left the party upon becoming president, in accordance with Kyrgyz law. Other parties that were likely to do well are the Ata-Meken (Fatherland) party, the Respublika Ata-Jurt (also Fatherland) party, Bir Bol, the Kyrgyzstan party, and Butun Kyrgyzstan Emgek (United Kyrgyzstan Labor). Some other parties such as Ar-Namys (Dignity) might pick up a few seats.

The SDPK won the country's parliamentary elections on October 4, receiving almost 28 percent of the votes. Six political parties passed the threshold to enter the 120-member unicameral legislature, which is known as Jogorku Kenesh (The Supreme Council).

On October 29, 2015 Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev officially asked the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) to create a ruling coalition. Atambaev met with the leader of the SDPK parliamentary group, Chynybai Tursunbekov and told him to establish a ruling coalition. Such parties as Kyrgyzstan (with 12.8 percent of the votes); Onuguu-Progress (9.3 percent) and Ata-Meken (Fatherland, 7.7 percent) could all join the SDPK in a government.

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Temir Sariyev resigned on 11 April 2016 after a parliamentary commission accused his cabinet for corruption, a move highlighting tensions between different factions of President Almazbek Atambayev's supporters. A commission set up by the ex-Soviet republic's parliament said the government had broken the law, accusing it of having rigged a $100 million road construction tender to ensure it was given to a Chinese firm that lacked the required license. Sariyev, who has denied any wrongdoing, had asked Atambayev to sack Transport Minister Argynbek Malabayev, but Atambayev refused to do so.

The Social Democratic Party (SDP) withdrew from the ruling coalition in Kyrgyzstan's parliament, meaning that the coalition cabinet of Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov would have to resign. SDP faction leader Isa Omurkulov said on 24 October 2016 that the decision to withdraw from the six-party coalition was made at a party meeting earlier the same day "because of irreconcilable political views." The SDP was headed by President Almazbek Atambaev before his election as president. The move came amid tensions within the six-party coalition over holding a referendum on constitutional changes. Two parties within the ruling coalition -- Ata-Meken (Fatherland) and Onuguu (Progress) -- opposed the constitutional changes, which would expand the powers of the prime minister and parliament and reform Kyrgyzstan's judicial system. Civil society activists and opposition groups criticized the proposals, accusing Atambaev of seeking to extend his grip on power.

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Page last modified: 26-09-2021 14:23:06 ZULU