Bishkek at the Ballot Box: An Analysis of the Kyrgyz Parliamentary Election
Author:Caspian Policy Center
Dec 8, 2021
Washington, D.C. - The Caspian Policy Center (CPC) hosted a panel discussion on December 8th, focused on the implications of the events of the Kyrgyz elections and the consequences not only on Kyrgyz society but on the broader surrounding region.
The panel was composed of regional experts and members of academia, located both in Bishkek and the U.S, and was able to offer on the ground insights. The discussion was focused on analyzing the state of society and politics in the Kyrgyz Republic after the elections, and how they will impact Bishkek’s ability to effectively govern in the future. The Webinar was streamed on Zoom and examined perceptions of political legitimacy and the issues of political and societal instability in the Kyrgyz Republic.
Efgan Nifti, Chief Executive Officer of the CPC, opened the event with welcome remarks focused on the importance of assessing the impacts of the election on the Kyrgyz Republic, saying “The Kyrgyz Republic’s electoral history demonstrates the importance of conversations such as these from which we can learn and improve upon past experiences.”
Ambassador (ret.) Richard Hoagland, Senior fellow at CPC and Chair of the Security and Politics Program (CPC) moderated the insightful discussion by posing questions concerning electoral legitimacy, political transparency, the role of China and Russia, and potential steps the United States can take to engage with Bishkek.
The panelists, all speaking in a personal capacity, Dr. Erica Marat, Chair of Regional and Analytical Studies, National Defense University; Dr. Asel Doolotkeldieva, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, OSCE Academy (Bishkek); and Dr. Aijan Sharshenova, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, OSCE Academy (Bishkek) discussed the parliamentary elections and the Kyrgyz Republic’s electoral history.
There was a lengthy discussion on the political impact that changes in voting strategies created through increased utilization of new technology, with Dr. Asel Doolotkeldieva explaining that “Political technologies are becoming even more astute in Kyrgyzstan. Before it was physical vote buying, but now it may be shifting towards electronic versions of vote-buying – and it’s much more difficult to trace.”
The discussion concluded with the panelists all expressing their desire for the United States and Europe to increase their meaningful engagement with Central Asia. Dr. Erica Marat also expressed the hope that the Kyrgyz Republic will “Expand on the values of social inclusion, political representation, good governance…the ideals of this country [the United States].”
Calls to increase the commitment of the United States and Europe to Central Asia and to avoid treating it as its own region rather than under Chinese or Russian influence were expressed. “Presence is power, just keep staying, keep observing. Make sure you take us for what we are rather than someone’s backyard,” reminded Dr. Aijan Sharshenova.
The expert discussion on the snap parliamentary elections provided a chance to examine the capability and responsiveness of Bishkek to the shifting political realities in the country, as well as provide a glimpse into the future of governance in the Kyrgyz Republic.
ABOUT CASPIAN POLICY CENTER
The Caspian Policy Center (CPC) is an independent, nonprofit research think tank based in Washington D.C. Economic, political, energy, and security issues of the Caspian region constitute the central research focus of the Center. CPC aims at becoming a primary research and debate platform in the Caspian region with relevant publications, events, projects, and media productions to nurture a comprehensive understanding of the intertwined affairs of the Caspian region.
With an inclusive, scholarly, and innovative approach, the Caspian Policy Center presents a platform where diverse voices from academia, business, and the policy world from both the region and the nation’s capital interact to produce distinct ideas and insights about the outstanding issues of the Caspian region. Learn more at caspianpolicy.org.