Kyrgyzstan: parliamentary elections, or ‘leopard’s jump’
Parliamentary elections will be held in Kyrgyzstan on October 4th. 14 political parties from 30 applications – not all were able to make an election deposit of 5 million soms (about 75,000 thousand dollars) – have joined the fight for the 120 seats in the Jogorku Kenesh (parliament). The leaders of the race are called the old-timers by the experts. They are the Social Democratic Party (Social Democratic Party), the socialist ‘Ata Meken’, the Ata-Jurt- Republic bloc, and the Ar-Namys party.
The specific nature of this election determines the presence of a large number of businessmen, representatives of NGOs and even candidates who are under investigation or being sought according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kyrgyzstan. There are candidates with criminal records and members of organized criminal groups. For example, on September 10 the General Prosecutor's Office brought to the CEC a submission for the criminal prosecution of a candidate from the Congress of the Peoples of Kyrgyzstan party, Karganbek Samakov, the candidate of the Bir Bol party, the ex-Prime Minister, Igor Chudinov, and the candidate of the Zamandash party, the former vice -premier, Iskander Aidaraliev.
A distinctive feature of the election, according to the Kyrgyz political scientist, Mars Sariev, is that they are even more than of a ‘cash’ nature. ‘’The moneybags are going to the parliament. Their concentration will be high in the new composition of the Parliament. The election campaign has just started, and they have already collected huge masses of people in the regions, arranging concerts, making promises," Mars Sariev told Vestnik Kavkaza.
A deputy from the SDPK, Galina Skripkina, believes that the presence of business is necessary at the current stage of the development of the political parties. "Political parties are not rich, do not earn money, and elections are an expensive process. Where can they get the money? Of course, due to the fact that the party list includes wealthy people. In developed countries, money is allocated from the budget for the elections and maintaining the parties, but our state is not ready to finance the parties from the budget. The paradox is that we do not even have schools for training the politicians. The politicians are becoming politicians in the process. You have to choose in the West whether to engage in business or in politics,’’ Skripkina told Vestnik Kavkaza
Some businessmen are entering parliament to have an opportunity to pass relevant laws to improve the business environment in the country, others need to protect their business under the guise of a deputy's mandate. "Some businessmen, such as the director of the Dordoy market, the leader of the Egemek party, Askar Salymbekov, refer to the creative part of our society, providinh the population with jobs created by the infrastructure. So the Dordoy market has employed 60 thousand people. The leader of the ‘Republic’, Omurbek Babanov, also refers to the creators. But there are people in business, the origin of whose capital is doubtful. These are former officials," Mars Sariev said.
Nevertheless, separately neither the Egemek party, nor the ‘Republic’ will gain the necessary number of votes, because, according to Sariev, a decisive role in the elections will be played by the regional factor. This year, the parties took the unprecedented step of teaming together on the principle ‘wealthy north – authoritative south’ and vice versa. For example, the Republic party merged with the influential southern politician Kamchibek Tashiyev’s ‘Ata-Jurt’. The Emgek party merged with the authoritative politician Madumarov Adahanov’s ‘Butun Kyrgyzstan’. "This is a positive factor, as these associations erode the regional principle,’’ Sariev noted.
Galina Skripkina agrees with this assessment. "The merging of the parties is aimed at concentrating all forces, the northern and the southern ones, so that all together can go to the parliament, without dividing by regions."
Omurbek Tekebayev’s Ata-Meken party will emphasize the protest electorate in these elections. "Tekebayev goes into opposition, because part of establishment is not satisfied. He has made a stake for the protest electorate. The West could use this card," Sariev said. According to him, the Ata-Meken party has started the campaign competently. They have included the disgraced mayor Osh Melis Mrzykmatov in the party, knowing that he will be withdrawn from the race. This somersault will add votes to the Ata-Meken party. The political scientist asks: where is the point of bifurcation? "Either the West uses Tekebayev, if he is pushed into the White House [the nickname of the government complex in Bishkek – VK], or they will negotiate with him on equal terms behind the scenes," Mars Sariev said.
The new party ‘Bir Bol’, one of the members of which is the director of the public fund Legal Clinic ‘Adilet’, Cholpon Dzhakupova, has called its election program a ‘leopard’s jump’. If the party does not ‘jump’ into the Parliament, then, according to Mars Sariev, ‘it will rise a lot of noise’.
The clash of elites could lead to the fact that the Western project could appear on the stage. The US usually plays on faultlines. They do not themselves create a situation, but are working on the grounds of religious or ethnic clashes, the conflicts of regional elites.
The Social Democratic Party has been called a leader by the experts, the party of power, which represents the interests both of the North and the South of the country. The party makes stakes in the election campaign on cooperation with Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEC). "The economy of Kyrgyzstan will not rise separately. Kyrgyzstan simply would not have developed without integration. We would have a market economy due to the automotive, sewing, knitting markets, and due to the general market ‘Dordoi’, Galina Skripkin said. ‘It's about re-exporting, and we ourselves did not produce anything. We link our hopes on the revival of the industry to the EAEC. The government has a project to raise industry. Moscow went to the insurance of the risks in the accession of Kyrgyzstan to the EAEC, a stabilization fund of $2 billion was established. For the Republic this money is enough to support the spheres of industry that have suffered. The first lending to large businesses has been started already. There are plans to set up associations for different industries. A large market has opened for Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and even Armenia, despite the geographical distance. We understand that there are difficulties ahead. Coincidentally, Kyrgyzstan joined the EAEC during the world crisis, low prices, sanctions against Russia. But all the same it will be easier than if we were alone."
Skripkina noted that the parties are going into the elections with almost the same political platform: "Among them there are no extreme right, extreme left or hard centrists. All electoral platforms are of the socio-economic orientation, virtually all indicated the need for economic development, establishment of stability in policy."
"If the Social Democrats will not be able to win a majority of the seats, the party will have to seek the possibility of forming a parliamentary majority in alliance with someone that would work to support the initiatives of the incumbent president. In particular, on foreign policy issues," the director general of the analytical center Strategy ‘East-West’, Dmitry Orlov, told Vestnik Kavkaza.
You also need to take into account the Islamic factor. According to the latest data, almost 83% of the population of Kyrgyzstan are Muslims. In addition, some parties in their speeches and programs state that they will compete for the traditional values of Islam prescribed in the Koran. The main thing is that they do not forget about the secularism of the Kyrgyz Republic. "Another thing are the so-called radical Islamists. They will agitate not to participate in the elections, because they believe that the secular regimes are " the creatures of Satan." And then it all depends on what the parties can oppose to the radical campaigning, and the state itself, in the framework of their competencies. And the work of a religious extremist is much more harmful to the election campaigns of the parties than to the state, because it deprives them of votes," Orlov said.
According to Mars Sariev, people well-versed in politics understand what people want from them and fear that the losers in the elections will try to destabilize the situation. The bone of contention could be so-called biometrics, as Kyrgyzstan in these elections will use a new voting system for biometric data. The donation of the biometric data began long ago, but not all citizens have handed over their data. The situation has been heated up by human rights activists, who insist on the non-compliance of the mandatory collection of the biometric data to the Constitution. Moreover, if a citizen does not have time to submit their biometric data by September 19, he cannot vote.
"If this issue is wisely shaken, it can blow up the situation", Mars Sariev said. According to him, the situation can be simulated depending on the context of the election results. And the results of the elections may be challenged by the citizens not listed in the electoral list or the businessmen not passed to the parliament, the NGO representatives backed by the West.
The experts do not exclude the United States’ intervention in the situation. The assignment of the author of ‘color revolutions’, Richard Miles, as the Chargé d'Affaires in Kyrgyzstan this spring was not random.
They say the main objective of the US diplomat was to prevent the republic joining the EAEC. Another version of his arrival in the country is the preparations for the parliamentary elections. "In the summer of 2015 he had been ‘convicted’of involvement in three TV programs on the channel KTR, prepared in conjunction with Azattyk Radio (the Kyrgyz service of Radio Svoboda), with compromising material of killing for the authorities,’’ Mars Sariev said. ‘’These programs were not broadcast. But the controversy was great. KTR terminated the contract with Radio Azattyk and Miles moved to the United States. ‘’That time the situation was not shaken enough’’
The new ambassador, Sheila Gwaltney, took Richard Miles’s place before the elections. She has not yet received the agreement, but has started her duties. A few days ago the US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, Nisha Desai Bisval, visited Bishkek. All this is not accidental, Washington harbored a grudge against Bishkek for the elimination of the US air base ‘Manas’ and the denunciation of the cooperation agreement with the United States. As a result, the masses of people derived to the streets may require not only a revision of the results of the parliamentary elections, but also early presidential elections.