Elections in Kyrgyzstan always give me a lot of food for thought. As I am looking through lists of candidates kindly put in the web by Kloop.kg. Every year I hope that the lists would surprise me but they don’t. It is mostly men of one ethnic group, they are either presidents or executive directors of different businesses. Some of the men who are running are unemployed [how can you run for a council post if you are unemployed?]. Some of them are advisors to Members of Parliament. The surprise of the day is that the most represented party at least in the list online is the Green party. The parties which name themselves ‘green’ are supposedly progressive. I wonder what their stand is on women’s and LGBT rights.
And all the women who are running are either teachers or school directors, doctors or assistants to MPs. Feel the difference. Only maybe one or two who are executive directors.
My personal favorites are candidates from Bishkek AIDS Center, Olympics Reserves coordinator and Ortosay Bazaar head of security. Just to give you an idea about who would like to make decisions on behalf of communities. Basically it is businesses who want to have more space for their businesses, only maybe less than a dozen of NGO representatives. I am happy to see a lot of young people and a handful of women (no, they are not following the quota system this time, every fourth candidate has to be a woman…). For example, in Asanbai disctrict there are 6 women out of 42 candidates.
Yesterday Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister, was assassinated in Pakistan. She was one of the inspiring female politicians and working in a country full of conflict and actively speaking against severe abuse of women in her country. She was a person of great courage and thousands of women activists are mourning about this loss. Benazir had the courage to speak against Shariya laws in an Islamic country and against an abusive political regime in Pakistan. It’s amazing that she had so many supporters, it is rather unusual for Pakistan. She was the first woman ever to be in such a high position in an Islamic state.
There are comments in the blogosphere about the new parliament: now the parliament has more space, laptops and women… Was just watching evening news and realized that the 22 women in parliament remain invisible. The journalists continue to do close-ups of men and interview them only. The one woman who was mentioned in the news was former head of Constitutional Court Cholpon Baekova. I am so wishing for women who speak in the parliament. Can’t wait to see them in action. Hoping that they will realize how important their presence is for us, other women. 22 out of 90.
On the mono-party parliament, there are ten committees and mostly Ak Jol party members in them. The dominating party chose the new Prime Minister today. He is an ethnic Russian (I assume from the last name and looks) and a mathematician. President Bakiev approved the parliament’s choice. How surprising! Bakiev also said today that the political battles are over now and Kyrgyzstan is entering the new year with a new promising parliament.
Just to discuss the hypocrisy of interpretation of the concept of human rights in Kyrgyzstan. I was just watching Tursunbai Bakir uulu (who was Kyrgyz ombudsman for five years) on an ‘analytical’ program. He was talking about how flawed the elections wear and saying that the people in power in Kyrgyzstan do not fear God and do not prepare for their second life after death. At one point of the interview he took out a tiny Koran out of his pocket and said that he always carries one with him. During his speech he has not mentioned human rights a single time, yet religon was indeed the main topic of conversation. According to Bakir uulu, Kyrgyz people need to have an ideology which will be rooted in religion to replace the old communism ideology and not to have ‘vacuum’ in their heads. At some point he also said that he prays five times a day but does not even make his staff to do so in response to concern about his religiosity being an issue.
I can’t wait for the new ombudsman elections and actually need to ask around about the possibility of taking part in the elections process.
Just couple of days ago I wanted to join a protest called ‘I don’t believe’ in front of the Central Election Commission. The election process turned out very flawed and I do not believe that people voted in favor of a party they did not know much about. I did not go because of loads of work in the office and this very day found out that all the people who joined the protest were arrested. They received their sentences yesteday ranging from 500 soms (10 Euro) fines to 7 days incarceration. Strangely enough the wellknown activists received more drastic sentences. One of the people who is supposed to spend 7 days in jail is Mirsulzhan Namazaliev who is a youth activist and my fellow blogger.
These events reminded me about the arrests and bans on freedom of assembly during Akaev’s time. Is this history repeating?
Yesterday’s elections proved yet another point: the way Kyrgyz society is structured does not allow for diversity in the parliament. One pro-presidential party winning the elections with 47,43% of the votes (at least not 70%) and aiming at one-party parliament. So all-male system is now changing to one-party system with hopefully some representation of women, youth and non-Kyrgyz ethnic groups. As expected the party called the ‘New Power’ (Novaya Sila) won as little as 0,23% (a little bit over 4000) of the votes. The New Power included mostly women and young people and was not able to invest into a large-scale campaign involving mobile phone operators or popular artists. I don’t have their poster on the wall.
Somebody told me today that Kyrgyzstan is not ready for a party like that. Was it ready for a party established two months before the elections and directly linked to the president? By the way, the president himself said today that the parliament ‘will not be the same as the previous one despite the outcome of the elections’. He meant women, youth and different ethnic groups will be represented.
The election day process did not touch me directly as I was on my way to Bishkek and after a 6-hour delay in Moscow airport due to heavy fog in Bishkek. But I’ve been calling/msning people who were actively involved in documenting the process. So far a lot of people were not able to cast their vote due to not being registered with their election constituency. It took hours to go to court and get their constitutional right secured. One of neweurasia active bloggers who is also a youth liberal activist spent couple of hours trying to get to vote as well.
I also got feedback from interpreters working with the OSCE monitoring mission in Kara-Balta. As I am writing this post, some of them are pressued by the local election committees not to translate everything that is happening during the ballot count.
The last parliamentary elections brought about a drastic change in power and provided Kyrgyzstan with same-sex parliament (as it is said in Russian). These elections came unexpected but brought about a ‘democratic’ quota which should ensure representation. The elections as usual (see reports from 1995, 2000, 2005) went with a lot of violations, yet few election results will be questioned. I would say that it’s going to be some 70-80% voting for Ak Jol and then 5-10 % for other parties with SDPK, ArNamys, Ata Meken being in top 3 following Ak Jol. Will this mean that women/young people/non-Kyrgyz make it to parliament and will have a significant representation? We will see. The Russian elections showed that Put(t)in(g) your name on the ballot and winning a seat does not mean that a person actually counted on being in the parliament. Maybe putting names of the pop stars on the ballots will help win elections… Dima Bilan for Ak Jol, for example. Interesting ways to get democratic decision-making to work.