Kyrgyzstan to get a one-party parliament?

The ruling Ak Zhol party has won a huge majority in Kyrgyzstan’s parliamentary election. But international observers and opposition groups are highly critical of the election process.

A new day brought no new surprises in the Kyrgyz parliamentary elections as it was confirmed that President Bakiev’s party had won a landslide victory.

His Ak Zhol faction took nearly half of all votes counted, while their main rivals, Ata Meken, came distant second.

But controversy has plagued this election campaign from the start. Opposition factions have continually alleged foul play, claiming they were denied adequate television coverage and that their candidates were attacked and intimidated. 

Many international media sources questioned whether the vote would be free or fair and as the final results came in, the OSCE panel of election observers delivered a damning verdict.

The panel highlighted a lack of transparency in vote counting, the suspicious deregistration of some opposition candidates and general abuse of administrative resources in favour of Ak Zhol.

They were particularly concerned about the new complicated voting thresholds which seem certain to mean that Kyrgyzstan is about to become a one-party system.

To win seats factions need to gain 5 per cent of all registered voters nationwide and half-a-percent in each of the country’s seven regions and its two largest cities.
 
The government said the new benchmarks were designed to make the vote more representative of the whole country, but it seems only Ak Zhol has been able to achieve them.

The observers’ leader made the point that if such stringent requirements were applied in his home country of Finland their parliament would be empty.

Opposition parties are mounting a legal challenge to the results but political analysts say that if they are allowed to stand, it could prove devastating to democracy in the country.

However the new parliament shapes up, President Bakiev looks certain to have a tainted mandate, and the OSCE observations will only fuel fears that Kyrgyzstan is sliding back to the sort of authoritarian rule it overthrew in the Tulip revolution just two-and-a-half years ago.