Kyrgyz still desperately short of vowels
October 12, 2010 § 2 Comments
The Kyrgyz vowel shortage continues as Dzhurt and the SPDK become the largest parties.
Seriously, the Kyrgyz elections are primarily good news. Whilst it is still early days, the OSCE monitoring team are already describing the elections as the freest and fairest yet held in central Asia. Moreover, the largest party elected, the conservative Ata-Dzhurt, mainly represent the southern areas and had previously been thought to back ousted President Bakiyev and support separation for the south. Now they have a stake in the government, they have refuted wanting either and seem anxious to build a coherent coalition government which represents all areas and all factions, and allows President Otunbayeva to remain in post.
The bad news is that the Kyrgyz 2010 elections may become a classic example of a situation where an electoral system, whilst looking good on paper, causes problems because it is not suited to the situation on the ground. 120 seats are elected by closed list PR with a 5% threshold to get into Parliament. The problem is that this uncertain new political space has created a situation where there are 27 different political parties vying for power – none of whom can claim more than a couple of percent of the voters as supporters. There was almost a situation where no party passed the threshold. In the end it wasn’t quite that bad. Even so the largest party, Ata Dzhurt, only won 8.8% of the vote and only five parties passed the threshold. As such any party that gets any seats at all has to receive a lot of seats to make the numbers up to the 120. There were parties just either side of the 5% margin, and the difference of just a few 0.1% became the difference between receiving no seats at all and becoming one of the largest parties in Parliament.
It also means that only 38% of the votes cast counted towards the result. 62% of voters voted for parties that didn’t make the threshold. That’s an awful lot of dissatisfied people and could prove a threat to the government. As one would expect the first to object have been parties that just missed out on the 5%: largely centre-right and nationalist parties. So far the protests have only attracted a few hundred in Bishkek and a thousand or so in the southern city of Osh – so not the tens of thousands that have twice brought the government down in Kyrgyzstan. That said, these movements take a while to gather momentum: in both the last two Kyrgyz cases and in the case of neighbouring Tajikistan the revolt did not come straight after the election but a few months or even years later. So we’re not out of the woods yet.
And what of the parties that did win? Well, helpfully they represent a nice smorgasbord of the Kyrgyz political spectrum. We have discussed the first placed Ata Dzhurt, they got 28 seats. In second place we have the centre-left pro-Otunbayeva SPDK, they got 26 seats. In third place the pro-Russian Ar-Namys (who have an English website) with 25 seats. In fourth place with 23 seats are Respublica, a party of an oligarch named Babanov who aimed their campaign squarely at young people (their campaign prominently featured their endorsement by a young half-Congloese-half-Kyrgyz world kickboxing champion, a bold move in a society which can be quite racist). Bringing up the rear, but still winning 18 seats, are the liberal Ata Meken party.
Tomorrow I’ll do a roundup of the Bosnian and Latvian results and a look forward to the Czech election. I’m not going to do the Brazilian results because there is nothing I can add to this roundup but feel free to discuss it below.