Elections this weekend

October 8, 2010 § 1 Comment

We only have one election this weekend.

Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan elects its parliament on Sunday – 120 MPs will be elected by closed list PR and so far the OSCE says things are free and fair. The President, Roza Otunbayeva, will stay in power regardless of the result but this is the first democratic test of her Government – which took power following a coup in April of this year. People will be keenly watching to see how her supporters do relative to allies of the former president Bakiyev.

In reality though it will not make much difference – a hugely hostile parliament will be the least likely result. What will be interesting to see is how different both turnout and results are in the southern areas of Osh compared to the north. Osh was Bakiyev’s base and there is far less support for the coup there than in the rest of the country. There has been open talk of seceding from Kyrgystan and inviting Bakiyev back to be president of a “Southern Kyrgystan”. Moreover many are worried that if political divisions harden along regional lines it could lead to the kind of inter-regional civil war which left many tens of thousands dead in neighbouring Tajikistan in the 1990s.

In reality both of these outcomes are quite unlikely but it will be interesting to see if the result of this election is a coming together for Kyrgyzstan or a drifting apart.

Finally since this is my blog I’m going to plug a piece I wrote at the beginning of the year on the coup.

Niger

Niger was supposed to have a constitutional referendum on Sunday but it has been delayed to the 31st to allow 600,000 more names to be added to the voter lists. This is part of a move to normalise politics in what seems to be a genuine desire for democracy on the part of the military Junta.

The story starts in late 2009 when former president Mamadou Tandja, upon coming to the end of his term, changed the constitution to give himself three more years in power. Elections were held to ratify the changes but their fairness was doubted. Elections were then held to the parliament which the opposition boycotted. Fearing that the country was going to slip back into dictatorship, the military launched a coup and ousted him. It remains to be seen whether this is due to a genuine desire to restore democracy or whether the purpose is to install a puppet regime with military support.

The constitutional changes look good on paper. The position of Prime Minister is restored, the President’s powers are trimmed, and several added checks and balances are introduced. All MPs have to be re-elected every five years and the President is limited to two 5-year terms.

I expect you’re wondering what Niger’s national anthem sounds like:

The next elections are in the Czech Republic on Friday. More on that soon. Finally here is President of Bolivia, Evo Morales in action:

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§ One Response to Elections this weekend

  • […] Again, we might have to wait for presidential elections later in the year before we see how genuine the junta’s desire to give up power and return to civilian rule is. However, they gave out a promising signal on Sunday when they said that none of the junta’s leadership were intending to contest the upcoming elections. There’s some more background here. […]

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