Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
Uzbekistan has high level of democratization of society in which the elections are the important political process. Uzbekistan is organized country and able to carry out such a complex events as the election at a high level. It is promoted by accumulated experience of Uzbekistan in this field and the development of the legal basis for strengthening the electoral system. It ensures openness and transparency of the electoral process which is a guarantee of the implementation of the electoral rights of citizens. During the election campaign, the mass media is not only the main channel for informing the voters, but also an important instrument of social control.
Uzbekistan’s Central Elections Commission has already announced scheduled of upcoming Presidential Elections to be held on December 4, 2016 in the country. Its announcement is accordance with Articles 96, 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan and Article 8 of the Law “On elections of the President of Uzbekistan”, Articles 5 and 9 of the Law “On the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan”. An intense election preparation has been started in all electoral districts. According to CEC, 713 electoral precincts have been formed in Tashkent. Information about the boundaries of each electoral precinct, specifying the addresses of the buildings of precinct electoral commissions has been published in mass media for voters.
Moreover, members of the district election commissions from among members of the wider public has been approved by the Central Election Commission on recommendation of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, regional and Tashkent city councils of people’s deputies.
The CEC has adopted a decision to create constituencies for the presidential election. The CEC has formed 14 electoral districts within the boundaries of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, regions and Tashkent city. The total number of voters included in the lists of the constituencies is 21.435 million. The Constitution grants every adult citizen who has reached 18 years of age the right to vote.
Uzbekistan is fully engaged and busy for the upcoming elections. All political parties expressed their desire to participate in the election of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and to this end, the CEC presented a package of necessary documents.
In accordance with Article 24 of the Law “On Elections of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan” the right to nominate the candidate for the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan is possessed by political parties. Thus every political party has already nominated its candidate for the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan on the condition that it is registered by the Ministry of Justice no later than six months prior to the date of announcement of the election campaign.
Uzbekistan has multi-party democracy where political parties are free to take part in the elections. Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan (LiDeP), the Democratic Party (DP), Milly Tiklanish (National Revival), the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Social-Democratic Party (SDP) have already nominated their presidential candidates. Shavkat Mirziyoyev nominated has been nominated by the UzLiDeP, Sarvar Otamuratov by “Milly Tiklanish” DPU, Nariman Umarov from “Adolat” SDPU, and Hotamzhon Ketmonov by PDPU.
Political parties have started its election campaigns on September 9. Registration of presidential candidates will be held from September 30 until October 20 in accordance with the action plan for preparations and holding the presidential election.
The collection of signatures is one of the important initial stages of the election campaign. In Uzbekistan all the political parties began collecting signatures of voters supporting presidential candidates. In accordance with the law “On elections of President of the Republic of Uzbekistan”, political parties are now busy to win the essential support for its presidential candidates by collecting signatures of at least 1 per cent of the overall number of voters in the Republic of Uzbekistan, and their signature lists should contain signatures of voters representing not fewer than 8 administrative-territorial units. In the process of collecting signatures, the regional council of every party is conducting large-scale propagation events for the purpose of raising people’s political activeness and increasing the election-related awareness of citizens, especially young people voting in elections for the first time.
Central Election Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan is taking all possible measures to hold fair, free and transparent presidential elections. It has already invited many regional as well as international organizations to observe the upcoming elections. In this connection, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS Executive Committee), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) have been officially invited to observe the elections of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
During Presidential Elections, television is the primary source of political information, followed by radio, which is more popular in rural areas. Since the last presidential election 2015, social platforms have become more prominent compared with the print media. While the Press and Information Agency (PIA) reports that in total there are 1,392 media outlets, 79 per cent of which are privately owned will cover the process of preparation of the elections, as well as in polling stations on Election Day and counting of votes at each polling station. Print media, TV and radio, observers from other states, international organizations and movements will also rigorously monitor the elections.
According to the “Law on Guarantees of Suffrage to Citizens” the president is elected by popular vote by a simple majority of votes cast. If no candidate receives more than 50 per cent of votes cast, a second round between the two leading candidates takes place within one month. There is a turnout requirement of 33 per cent for the first round to be valid, but no such requirement is in place for the second round. Citizens of at least 35 years of age, with an excellent command of the Uzbek language and having resided in the country for at least 10 years before Election Day, are eligible to stand as candidates.
The election is administered by a three-tiered election administration: the CEC, 14 District Election Commissions (DECs), and 9,060 PECs, including 44 PECs in diplomatic missions in 36 countries. The CEC is a permanent body, while the DECs and PECs are set up for each election. The CEC is responsible for overseeing the uniform implementation of the election legislation and clarifying its application in practice. Changes made to the Constitution in 2014 granted the CEC the status of a constitutional body and established independence, lawfulness, collegiality, transparency, and fairness as the guiding principles of its work.
Since independence the Republic of Uzbekistan has taken so many reforms for the further “Democratization of the Electoral System and Legislation”. It has had taken all possible measures to build a modern electoral system in the country in accordance with international standards. Over the years of independence due to consistent modernization of political, state and legal system has been created the national electoral system corresponding with the highest democratic requirements. It has already institutionalized gross-root political participation of common people in the decision making of the government through various elections in the country on regular basis. Proper legislation has further strengthened democratic principles of the election formed on basis of universally recognized international norms and principles.
The principles of freedom of choice and expression, primarily, the constitutional right of everyone to vote and be elected to representative bodies of state power serves as a basis of a national model of Uzbekistan’s statehood. Reforms in the sphere of election are systemic, coherent and interrelate. Moreover, giving the CEC status of the constitutional body, takes a special place in the system of state power, which provides practical preparation and holding of elections without any interference from other state bodies is an important guarantee of comprehensive support the democratic, open and transparent elections.
Regular holding of elections, i.e. election to the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, regional, district and city Kengashes (Councils) of people’s deputies and the election of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan have reaffirmed importance of its modern electoral system. Their successfully conduct are important step in formation of state authorities, strengthening the democratic foundations of sovereignty of the people, the further development of the country along with building a law-governed state and strong civil society.
The Republic of Uzbekistan is a democratic country where civility dominates. Elections are held on regular basis with accordance with international standards implemented in any Western Democracy. Every election is conducted with fair, free and transparent manners. People are free to cast their votes through a popular and direct voting pattern acceptable to any country of the world. People are highly politically motivated and socially articulated due to which voting turn-out ratio even surpasses so many advanced democratic countries of the West. Every electoral activity is documented and relayed in mass media in the presence of so many international monitoring organizations and observers.
Majority of votes is a well-established universal democratic criterion which decides a “Winner” in any election which is supremely followed in Uzbekistan. Election campaign is carried out on the basis of equality, tranquility and without any prejudice where people tend to decide the winners. It is a people-democracy and not money-democracy where people honestly elect their members and President.
There is no hustle and bustle on the Election Day. Every electoral activity is carried out through peaceful manner. Exhibition of arms, snatching of ballot papers and use of power which is one of the common features in so many democracies of South East Asia, Africa and Latin America is strictly prohibited and totally banned. There is no concept of pre or post engineered rigging in all the elections of Uzbekistan which clearly shows impartiality of its state and its important organs in the process of elections moreover, which also reaffirms its maturity in democratic norms. Presidential Elections 2016 will be adhered on the principles of fair, free, openness and transparency.