World, Asia - Pacific

Key takeaways from Uzbekistan's parliamentary elections

Analysts say reformist approach of election is mere facade

Zaki Shaikh   | 22.12.2019
Key takeaways from Uzbekistan's parliamentary elections

LONDON

More than 20 million voters in Uzbekistan cast their ballots on Sunday to elect a new parliament.

Some 10,200 polling stations have been established across the country to facilitate the election of 150 deputies to the legislative chamber and local councils.

This campaign saw new blood being introduced in the government with 65% candidates running for the first time.

These are the first parliamentary elections held since Shavkat Mirziyoyev secured a win in the December 2016 presidential election, claiming 88.6% of the vote.

Also, contesting political parties have been allowed to participate in television debates in another first.

Under the newly enforced election code, the number of women should be at least 30% of the total number of candidates nominated by a political party.

George Cetereteli, president of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly stated in terms of potential the elections promised "a great opportunity to try these reforms". However these elections are indicative of the leadership's focus on political rhetoric. Insiders point to the fact that neither the authorities nor the voting population have any clear vision for pursuing genuine democratic reforms and modernization.

Despite much claims about a new image and new politics of opening up, Human Rights Watch has remarked that in practical terms country's political system remains largely "authoritarian".

Five political parties are contesting: Party for National Revival, People's Democratic Party (PDPU), Movement of Entrepreneurs and Business People, Social Democratic Party Adolat and the Ecological Party.

The Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan led by Mirziyoyev is certain to consolidate his political tenure for the next five years.

In spring 2019, in a survey conducted by a TV channel the respondents were asked if they knew about their deputies. About 95% of those surveyed said they did not know their deputy in the parliament.

The political parties nominated 750 candidates. A breakdown of the profile of the candidates shows that almost a third of them (about 30%) are teachers, followed by 19% with economics education, besides 12% doctors, 9% engineers, and 7% lawyers. There are hardly 2% candidates from entrepreneurs or independent business people. In the absence of any sharp, savvy and smart political figures bringing new voice and new narrative to the political discourse, not many people are hopeful of meaningful or substantial diversity in the country's politics.

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