Kyrgyzstan Presidential Election 2017

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

“My task is to preserve what has been achieved, to strengthen what has been started,”
New Elected President Sooronbai Jeenbekov

According to the central election commission of Kyrgyzstan former Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov secured 54.23 percent and succeeded to win the Presidential Election 2017. His main opponent Omurbek Babanov, achieved support of 33.47 percent.

Fifty-nine candidates were registered, 11 from political parties and 48 self-nominated. According to preliminary data, only 1 668 thousand 49 (55.93%) voters took part in the presidential elections. In total, in the republic there are 3 million 25 thousand voters registered. Eleven presidential candidates were standing for election, giving voters a wide choice. Eleven presidential candidates rigorously participated in the election which provided a wide choice.

The Presidential 2017 election was the second one since the adoption of the current Constitution in 2010, under which the incumbent president cannot stand for re-election. The latest amendments to the Constitution were initiated in 2016 by members of parliament (MPs), including from the ruling Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK). The proposed amendments were eventually adopted through a referendum in December 2016.

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Earlier it was feared about the possibility of a second round in the presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan, the winner was practically determined. More than 900 thousand voters from those who took part in the elections voted for him.

The attitude of voters promoted “political pluralism” and a “substitute” for real electoral competition during the Presidential Election 2017. It was apparent several weeks ahead of polling day that the election would essentially be a contest between Jeenbekov, the candidate from the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) who had the support of incumbent President Almazbek Atambaev, and Omurbek Babanov, the multimillionaire leader of the Respublika party.

Kyrgyzstan has unique political system totally different from all the CIS and South Caucasus Countries. It has ideal combination of “Parliamentary-Presidential” features in its existing political system. President is elected through “direct vote” as in so many advanced democracies in the world.

It has very effective system of “checks & balances” and “separation of powers” due to which there is no incidence of “over-lapping” among the different organs of the state which is good for its further “politicization and democratization” process in the country. There is “constitutional bar” on every Kyrgyzstan president not to exceed its term more than one which shows maturity of its political system and strength of democratic spirits.

According to its constitution the president is elected for a single six-year term by direct universal suffrage. A candidate who receives more than one half of the votes cast in the first round is declared elected. If no candidate receives the required majority, a runoff takes place between the two candidates with the most votes.

It has the most independent media among the CIS which ensures every “political transition” free and fair according the any international standard. Its Central Election Commission is a constitutional body which maintains its complete “impartiality” in the “operationalization and channelization” of the presidential election process in the country. Every presidential candidate has equal right to disseminate its political manifestation on mass media which is the pure essence of modern democracy.

Presidential Candidate’s Public Support

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The above diagram clearly shows that Kyrgyzstan’s voters supported former Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov in majority which voided any second round in the country. Voters preferred continuity of the socio-economic policies and rejected any dramatic change in their political system.

Observers from 50 countries monitored Kyrgyzstan’s presidential elections. A total of 315 international observers from 43 world countries were granted accreditation, including 295 long-term and short-term observers deployed by the OSCE/ODIHR, 37 parliamentarians and staff from the OSCE PA, 23 from PACE and 11 from the EP. A number of international organizations were also sent their observers to the elections. These included the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Shanghai Cooperation Organizations, the Hanns Seidel Foundation, etc.

The International Election Observation Mission comprised some 370 observers from 43 countries, including 295 long-term and short-term observers deployed by the OSCE/ODIHR, 37 parliamentarians and staff from the OSCE PA, 23 from PACE and 11 from the EP.

According to OSCE International Election Observation Commission, presidential election in the Kyrgyz Republic was “free & fair” and was conducted on the international standards of “universal suffrage”. It further strengthened of democratic institutions by providing for an orderly transfer of power from one elected president to another. Presidential election 2017 was competitive, as voters had a wide choice and candidates could, in general, campaign freely. The technical aspects of the election were well-administered.

Voting was orderly and well organized in the large majority of polling stations observed. Technical aspects of the election 2017 were well-organized by the CEC, 54 Territorial Election Commissions (TECs), and 2,375 Precinct Election Commissions (PECs) played very important role in electioneering. Voter age is 18 years but any criminal cannot vote for any candidate.

Every participating candidate managed to campaign freely. Several candidates and their regional structures mounted active campaigns throughout the country, using a variety of campaign methods. The election campaign was peaceful. Moreover, national minorities were involved in the election campaign, and candidates competed for the minority vote.

Women remain under-represented in political life, including in elected office. Only one registered candidate was a woman in the recently held Presidential Election. It was not a deliberate discrimination towards womanhood. Women were well represented in the election administration, accounting for 5 of 12 CEC members,

Kyrgyzstan civil society played an important role in civic and voter education and also undertook comprehensive long-term and short-term observation, which contributed to increasing the transparency of the electoral process.

The legal framework for presidential elections comprises the 2010 Constitution, the 2011 Constitutional Law on Presidential and Parliamentary Elections (electoral law), the 2011 Law on Electoral Commissions, and other legislation. 4 Numerous amendments were made to the electoral law in June 2017.

The presidential election was administered by the CEC, 54 Territorial Election Commissions (TECs) and 2,375 Precinct Election Commissions (PECs), including 37 polling stations established in embassies and consulates of the Kyrgyz Republic for voters abroad

Citizens who have attained the age of 18 before or on Election Day are eligible to vote, except those serving a prison sentence, irrespective of the gravity of the crime committed, 16 and those having been declared incapacitated by a court decision, which is at odds with international commitments.

Any Kyrgyzstani citizen between the age of 35 and 70, who has resided in the country for more than 15 years in total and has command of the state language, can stand for president. The electoral law bans from candidacy individuals who are not eligible to vote, as well as those with un-expunged or unexpired criminal records.

The election campaign lasted from 10 September to 13 October. The registered candidates could, in general, campaign freely using a variety of campaign methods. Several candidates and their regional structures were actively campaigning throughout the country.30 Campaign materials of candidates Babanov and Jeenbekov were the most visible, followed by those of Mr. Sariev.31 Some candidates were predominantly active on social media and in more low-profile encounters with voters, rather than at rallies. Two candidates withdrew from the race and endorsed the leading contenders.

The electoral law bans the participation in campaigns of certain individuals, including public officials, charity workers, religious figures, and minors.

Regional Voting Percentage

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According to figures national news agency the city of Osh registered the highest activity of voting i.e. 68.145%.

The SCO’s Statement

Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, that the Kyrgyz CEC created all the conditions for international observers to monitor the electoral process. He upheld that Presidential Election 2017 was organized in accordance with all new procedures. Both the older generation and the young actively participated in the election which showed its political maturity at large. He noted the excellent work of the election commissions and confirmed their professionalism and care for every citizen.

Concluding Remarks

Democracy is the real winner in Kyrgyz’s Presidential Election 2017 which where personalities come second and “continuation of system” comes first. In genuine democracy political transition always belongs to “system” and Kyrgyzstan’s political system is the best among the CIS. It is perfectly balanced and purified. Its vigorous constitution is the real custodian of all political rights and civil liberties. Elections are treated as divinity of modern democracy which is very much alive on the soil of great country, Kyrgyzstan. Bible of modern civilization and political system heavily depends on democratic norms, freedom of expression, fair and free election commission, active participation of political parties along with accountability and transparency which are enacted in Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan’s political system is stable and productive which carries all these principles of a democratic society without any political backsliding or constitutional deadlock. It has modern system of good governance where national cause matters to achieve the desired goals of socio-economic prosperity, inter-faith, social justice, rule of the law and above all accountability in the society and governance.

Former Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov was the best choice and articulated candidate for people’s section in the Presidential Election 2017. His political party Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) strongly supported his candidature. He is a man of principles. He knows the art of governance. He has been in the realms of governance for so many years as “Prime Minister” of Kyrgyzstan. He has great passions for achieving a qualitative life for his common people, immense socio-economic development and above all rule of the law.

Every political party in Kyrgyzstan was totally free to nominate and contest the Presidential Elections which showed the beauty of democracy which was the “binding forces” among the different political parties and factions of the Kyrgyzstan society. Democracy is supreme and respected in Kyrgyzstan which has now further strengthened the spirits of good governance in the country. It was the “will of people” which is always respected as a “balancing factor” in the political arena of Kyrgyzstan. It was the “free choice” of the voters which was accounted and documented in its true sense.

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