Kyrgyzstan’s Central Election Commission (CEC) has now twice had its decisions to refuse registration to parties hoping to contest the October 4 parliamentary elections reversed by Bishkek courts.
First, there was a furor in late August over the Kyrgyzstan Party’s submission of registration documents. Then, when the CEC announced the list of officially registered parties it left out two parties: Butun Kyrgyzstan and Aktiv. Butun Kyrgyzstan was denied registration on account of alleged discrepancies in its list of candidates and Aktiv did not pay the mandatory registration fee of 5 million Kyrgyz soms ($63,500).
But on Wednesday, the Butun Kyrgyzstan party won a favorable ruling from the Bishkek Administrative Court after the CEC had denied its registration. The CEC had refused to register Butun Kyrgyzstan on September 3 after Tursunbai Bakir uulu, a former ombudsman and former MP with the Ar-Namys Party elected in 2010, claimed Butun Kyrgyzstan had altered its party list after settling it at the party’s August 19 congress. Bakir uulu said he was on the party list after the congress but by the time the party filed to register he had been removed.
Butun Kyrgyzstan’s leader, Adakhan Madumarov, cried foul. After initially saying the party wouldn’t hold any rallies, Madumarov threatened protests if the court didn’t decide in the party’s favor. “This is blatant illiteracy. If the court decides not in our favor, then there will be rallies. People are tired of lawlessness and do not trust anyone. They have the right to defend their constitutional rights,” he said, according to 24.kg, a Kyrgyz news outlet. Butun Kyrgyzstan’s supporters rallied outside the court in Bishkek, which ultimately decided in the party’s favor.
The CEC could appeal to the Supreme Court but 24.kg reports that the commission has decided not to. With the addition of Butun Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyz citizens will have 16 parties to choose from on October 4.
An official Kygyz election website lists the 15 parties (soon 16, one can assume), their platforms and party lists. The 15 parties listed at present are: the Kyrgyzstan Party, Ordo, Yiman Nuru, Bir Bol, Mekenim Kyrgyzstan, Respublika, Chon Kazat, Birimdik, Mekenchil, Reforma, Ata-Meken, Zamandash, Meken Yntymagy, Social Democrats, and a party of veterans of the Afghan war and other local conflicts. Of those, only the Kyrgyzstan Party, Republika (in a tandem with Ata-Zhurt that no longer exists outside parliament), Birl Bol, and Ata-Meken currently hold seats. Several others contested the previous parliamentary elections in 2015 but did not meet the national and regional thresholds to capture seats.
Most interesting for those a little less familiar with Kyrgyz politics, perhaps, is the fact that the party with most seats in the current parliament — the Social Democratic Party (SDPK) — isn’t contesting the election. The party, which fostered both former President Almazbek Atambayev and current President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, has shattered under the weight of their feud. Over the summer, it looked possible that there would be two SDPKs running — the pro-Atambayev and anti-Atambayev factions, essentially — and some legal tussling over who could claim the party’s name. But for the first time in 13 years, the SDPK is not running for parliament. Instead, there is a new party, the Social Democrats (SDK), led by Atambayev’s sons.
Given that Kyrgyzstan’s election cycle is limited to a single month before election day, it passes like a whirlwind. Local journalists are pouring over the party lists, finding scandals and oddities aplenty. There’s the businessman who punched a woman in the face last year (there’s a video; he doesn’t deny it) on the Kyrgyzstan Party’s list; a handful of those on the SDK list are facing charges stemming from the violence at Atambayev’s Koi-Tash compound last August; a psychic sits on Chon Kazat’s list. And of course there is the usual allegations of criminals in the ranks across the parties.