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Uncertainty Perpetuated? The Pitfalls of a Weakly Institutionalized Party System in Kyrgyzstan

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image of Central Asian Affairs

The parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan in October 2015 garnered widespread approval from commentators for the level of fairness and freedom maintained throughout the campaign. However, the results of the vote do not provide a clear indication of the current state of affairs of parliamentarism in the republic. Focusing on the commercialization of party lists, we argue that neither identity politics nor the logic of neopatrimonialism adequately explain the dynamics of political competition in Kyrgyzstan. Instead, we see perpetual uncertainty emerging from contradicting yet increasing attempts to harness the capital of privatized party lists and to impose discipline. Eventually, and beyond short-term threats of an emerging super-presidentialism, Kyrgyzstan risks suffering from hollow parliamentarism, with political parties persistently failing to supply legislative initiatives with substantial agendas and adequate professionals. The weakly institutionalized political parties and their short-sighted electoral strategies undermine both the parliamentary system and its political pluralism.

Affiliations: 1: Manas University, Prospekt Mira 56, Bishkek 720044, Kyrgyzstan ; 2: OSCE Academy, 1A, Botanicheskii pereulok, Bishkek 720044, Kyrgyzstan


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