Kyrgyzstani parliamentary election, 2010
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An early parliamentary election was held in Kyrgyzstan on 10 October 2010. All 120 seats of the Jogorku Kenesh were elected by using a party list system. Seats were allocated to all parties who obtained more than 5% of the vote and more than 0.5% in each of the nine provinces, capped at 65 seats per party.
Ata-Zhurt won a plurality of seats, while the ruling interim government's party finished second, and the Ar-Namys came in third.
In April 2010, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted, which brought to power an interim government led by Roza Otunbayeva. An election and reform plan was unveiled on 19 April 2010. A referendum in June overwhelmingly approved a reform to turn the country from a presidential system to a parliamentary system. The new constitution would allow the parliament to choose a prime minister and also to play a key role in forming the new government.
Kyrgyzstan's geostrategic location is vital because it supplies the War in Afghanistan through the Manas Air Base, and it is also the only country to host both an American and Russian base. Political developments in 2010 also pleased the US but were an annoyance to Russia, who warned that the first parliamentary democracy in Central Asia could be catastrophic for Kyrgyzstan. Russia also considers the area as its sphere of influence.
Over 3,000 candidates from 29 political parties competed for the 120 seats, with the BBC saying that no party could easily win a majority and the result was hard to predict. Leaflets distributed in the south of the country urged people "not to tolerate" parties led by northerners, in a sign of remaining tensions following the 2010 South Kyrgyzstan riots.
Ar-Namys opposed the newly founded parliamentary system and said it would restore the older system of presidential rule. Ata-Zhurt campaigned for the return of Bakiyev from his exile in Belarus, and also advocated a return to presidential rule.
Roza Otunbayeva vowed to uphold a "spirit of fairness and transparency." She also talked of the importance of the election: "These elections are of fateful importance for our people and state. We are not just electing a parliament but starting a new system and opening a new page in our history." A month before election she threatened to introduce a state of emergency, and as a result postpone voting if parties escalated tensions in the country.
The organisations conducting monitoring were in the first positions among NGO according to Mass Media for the period from August till October. Traditionally these are: “For Democracy and a Civil Society” Coalition of NGO, “Taza Shailoo” Association. The “Free generation” Liberal Youth Alliance for the first time joined the supervision organization, and young men became target audience. On the day of voting in 127 stations of the country, young short-term observers carried out monitoring of electoral rights within the limits of the campaign “Youth for fair elections. Let’s prove it!” 
The interim government of the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SPDK) was backed by the United States, with Russia backing the opposition Ar-Namys party, which is led by Felix Kulov. It said six parties were expected to exceed the 5% threshold and win seats.
A poll of 1,500 people in late September by Perspectiva showed seven parties crossing the 5% threshold to win seats:
|Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan||Almazbek Atambaev||10.5%|
|Butun Kyrgyzstan||Adakahn Madumarov||5.7%|
The Kyrgyz nationalist party, Ata-Zhurt, were expected to do well among ethnic Kyrgyz in the south. Ata-Meken and the SPDK were supporters of the interim administration.
Protestors attacked the offices of the Ata-Zhurt party, burned campaign leaflets and demanded they be banned from the vote.
Zarylbek Rysaliyev, the interior minister, also claimed to know of about 10 "areas of potential clashes with some hotheads planning to snatch ballot boxes." There were also concerns in the international media of a renewal of ethnic strife that occurred earlier in the year.
In the previous election, there were 90 seats, though this was increased to 120 after the constitutional referendum.
The election was observed by 850 international monitors from 32 organisations, including 300 monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
Turnout was reported to be strong, particularly in Osh.
According to Article 77 of the Kyrgyz Republic Code on Elections, the threshold for the allotment of seats is receiving five percent of the votes of all eligible voters entered on the voter rolls. For this reason, only the top five parties (Ata-Zhurt, SDPK, Ar-Namys, Respublika and Ata-Meken) were allotted seats. The sixth party, Butun Kyrgyzstan, received more than five percent of the votes cast, but because it did not receive more than five percent of the votes of all eligible voters entered on the voter rolls, it was not allotted any seats.
Article 77 also requires parties to win 0.5% of the votes of all eligible voters in each oblast of Kyrgyzstan, as well as the cities of Bishkek and Osh. Though Ata-Zhurt won the plurality of the vote, especially with their southern stronghold, an electoral official said they barely overcame the 0.5% barrier in Bishkek and in Chuy province.
|Parties||Votes||% of votes cast||% by eligible voters||Seats|
|Respublika Party of Kyrgyzstan||217,601||13.12%||7.24%||23|
|Not voting/casting invalid vote||45.14%||—|
|Turnout: 1,679,538 (55.90%)|
The results set the stage for coalition talks.
The international team of observers hailed the vote, with the OSCE team saying the election were a step in the "further consolidation of the democratic process." While the observers said that this was unlike other elections in the past and did not have the same irregularities, they did point out some peculiarities whereas the Central Election Commission were underprepared for the polls, and such ""under-the-counter dealings" may have taken place. Only one observer had a negative reaction to the vote, though most were satisfied that this was a "step in the right direction."
Otunbayeva, who had refused to push back the election despite warnings of potential new unrest, hailed the election: "We have not known such elections for the last 20 years." Despite her comments, the government was reported to have been "plunged into a state of shock" over the results. Russia's Kommersant reported that the victory of Ata-Zhurt was a blow to the interim government.
US President Barack Obama congratulated Kyrgyzstan for this "historic" election, and said it proved that the Kyrgz people were "committed to power transfers by peaceful, democratic means." Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he feared there would be "difficulties" after the poll. "An abrupt shift to a parliamentary model can create difficulties...Now some difficult work to form a coalition lies ahead."
Kamchibek Tashiyev, the head of Ata-Zhurt, said he had been attacked. "They broke in like bandits...I think they intended to shoot me. I believe they tried to eliminate me - the forces that want to cancel election results and impose a state of emergency. I know for sure, GSNB (security services) was (sic) behind these actions."
Following the election, SDPK, Respublika and Ata-Meken agreed on a coalition in late November. However, as soon as the coalition was officially agreed to on 2 December, it collapsed when it failed to elect a speaker of parliament (with only 58 of the 67 coalition MPs voting for the designated speaker in a secret vote).
On 15 December, Respublika announced it had successfully negotiated the creation of a coalition government with SDPK and Ata-Zhurt. SDPK's Almazbek Atambayev became Prime Minister with 92-seats in the 120-seat chamber, Ata-Zhurt's Akhmatbek Keldibekov was chosen as Speaker of Parliament with 101 to 14 votes and Respublika's Omurbek Babanov would then become Deputy Prime Minister. The new government was approved later on the same day.
The result was also called a surprise because of the victory of Ata-Zhurt and its calls for Bakiyev's return, despite the election taking place under the auspices of the government that overthrew him. Thus this result "would seem to neutralize the uprising" earlier in the year. With a razor-thin plurality, the party would need an alliance of two other parties but it was seen as an "unenviable task" to form a coalition. A weak government could even force another election before the government's mandate runs out. Parallels were also drawn to the failure to form a government in Iraq following the general election there and the possibility for more instability. Furthermore, there was uncertainty in regards to the American-leased Manas air base as Ata-Zurt campaigned against extending the lease past 2011.
An analyst in Kazakhstan also suggested the election would "face its toughest test" if the losers opt to challenge the results in both the courts and the streets. "If certain people know they will lose their high-ranking posts after the election, then it's in their interest to destabilise the situation. They could take steps to remain in power or create chaos."
The Washington Post said the biggest surprise of the election was that it was "not a foregone conclusion," and thus it made this "small...nation the first in Central Asia to hold free elections in pursuit of a democratic system." It also quoted Alexey Malashenko of the Carnegie Moscow Center who said "These elections were very successful because they took place at all. Kyrgyzstan showed it is an exception in Central Asia. Despite many predictions to the contrary, the elections were held."
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- Party platforms
- An abridged version of the Final Report about parliamentary elections of 2010 in Kyrgyzstan (English)
- A full version of the Final Report about parliamentary elections of 2010 in Kyrgyzstan (Russian)