With the rise of Emomali Rahmon (formerly known as Rahmonov) to presidency in November 1992, civil war broke out in Tajikistan. The government of Rahmon was supported by the Russian Federation whereas the United Tajik Opposition (UTO), a loose grouping of interests that drew support from the centre and east of the country and was partially coloured by an Islamist agenda, was supported by Pakistan. The war lasted for 5 years and devastated the country until 27 June 1997, when a peace agreement was signed under the guidance of the United Nations (UN) and with the support of the international community. In the ‘General Agreement of Peace and National Reconciliation in Tajikistan’, the two warring factions agreed upon power-sharing, leaving Rahmon in office as president, but guaranteeing the legalization of opposition parties and giving to the UTO a representation of 30 percent in governmental structures. However, the promise of political pluralism has never been adequately realised.
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- 8,481,855 million (World Bank 2015 est.)
- Governmental Type:
- Ruling Coalition:
- One ruling party - People's Democratic Party (PDP)
- Last Elections:
- 1 March 2015 (parliamentary elections)
- Next Elections:
- 2020 (presidential elections)
- Sister Parties:
The parliament of Tajikistan (Majlisi Oli) is comprised of two chambers. The assembly of representatives (Majlisi Namayandagon) is the lower chamber with 63 deputies directly elected for a five-year term. Twenty-two members are elected through a proportional party list system within a single nationwide constituency with a five percent threshold for seat allocation. 41 members are elected in single-mandate constituencies under a majoritarian system. In these contests, if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the votes cast in the first round, the top two candidates compete in a second round within two weeks. A 50 percent turnout of registered voters is required.
The upper chamber (Majlisi Milli) contains 33 members, who are indirectly elected. 25 of them are elected for a five-year term by deputies of local majlisi and 8 are appointed by the president.
The parliamentary elections are primarily regulated by the 1994 constitution and the 1999 Constitutional Law on Elections to the Majlisi Oli (election law). The constitution provides for rule of law and fundamental civil and political rights and freedoms, necessary for the conduct of democratic elections. However, the general legal framework including a series of new or amended laws affecting media, civil society and religious organizations have narrowed civil and political freedoms.
Women in politics
Although there are no legal formal impediments to women’s participation in elections, women are significantly underrepresented. This is largely due to the traditional social, cultural and religious norms that preferentially situate women in the home. The 0 contribution to present one’s candidacy is an extra obstacle for women to compete in elections, whereas women are generally discriminated upon in terms of pay and are therefore even less likely than men to have such an amount of money available. Furthermore, family voting is common practice in Tajikistan. In these cases, it is usually the men who vote for all family members. This leaves women with little opportunity to choose a woman whom they feel represented by.
There are no special legal measures to promote women candidates. Some candidates and civil society activists stated to the OSCE/ODIHR EOM that the financial deposit and higher education requirements disproportionally affect potential women candidates. Some 24 per cent of candidates were women for the nationwide contest and 17 percent for the single-mandate contests. Only a few women were placed among the top candidates on parties’ electoral lists. Although the legal framework of Tajikistan provides for equality between women and men in public and political life, there is a general consensus among women’s advocacy organizations that laws rarely go beyond a mere statement of equality and implementation remains insufficient.
Participation of minorities
The main ethnic group in the country is Tajik, accounting for 84.3 percent of the population. Other groups include Uzbeks (13.8 percent), Russians (0.5 percent), and Kyrgyz (0.8 percent). A variety of ethnic groups comprise the remaining 0.6 percent. There is no overt discrimination against these minority groups, nor are there any formal barriers for their full participation in the electoral process. At the same time, it is noticeable that in particular the large Uzbek minority does not appear to be actively engaged in the political process. During the 2015 parliamentary elections, they did not feature as candidates and political parties did not have messages designed to appeal to Uzbek voters.
It should be noted in this respect that power is distributed on the basis of regional identities rather than ethnicity, and it can therefore be said that apart from the Kulobis (president Rakhmon is a native of this region) all groups in Tajikistan seem to be underrepresented. Most Uzbeks are loyal to current president Rakhmon.
On a more positive note, the government of Tajikistan does try to actively engage the minorities in the election process by printing ballots in multiple languages. During the 2015 parliamentary elections, ballots were printed in Tajik, Uzbek, Russian and Kyrgyz.
The most recent parliamentary elections in Tajikistan took place on 1 March 2015. According to the preliminary results, President Rahmon's ruling People's Democratic Party won 65,02 percent of the votes. For the first time since Tajikistan's independence in 1991, the Communist Party and oppositionist Islamic Renaissance Party (IRPT) failed to meet the 5 percent threshold required to win seats in parliament. The Social Democratic Party failed to meet the 5 percent threshold as well. The Tajik parliament therefore does not have any opposition. However, the Communist Party did manage to win two seats by winning in two single-mandate constituents.
The official results as presented by Tajikistan's Central Commission for Elections and Referenda (CCER) below:
|Party||Seats party lists*||Seats single-mandate districts||Total||%|
|People's Democratic Party||16||35||51||65,4|
|Party of Economic Reform||2||1||3||7,5|
|Islamic Revival Party||0||0||0||1,6|
|Social Democratic Party||0||0||0||0,5|
Statement OSCE observation mission
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) was invited by the Tajik authorities to monitor the elections. They concluded that the elections failed to meet the OSCE standards. The parliamentary elections took place in a “restricted political space” and “failed to provide a level playing field for candidates”.
The international monitors stumbled upon various problems that harmed the credibility of the elections. The monitors spoke of restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly, press freedom and accessibility. On top of this, the administration was not impartial. Numerous cases of proxy voting and ballot-box stuffing were noted. Counting procedures were also disregarded, meaning that an honest vote could not be guaranteed. More than half of the votes counts observed were assessed negatively.
The state-run media failed to provide a genuine political debate. Criticism against Tajik officials and authorities is unheard of as insult or slander against senior government officials or candidates for parliament is a criminal offence. Because of this journalists have been forced to self-censorship. Political campaigning was made impossible as slots for political parties and candidates were aired long before the election date. The coverage during the campaigning period solely focused on the state authorities. Combined with negative reports on the opposition IRPT the media failed to provide the voters with the possibility to make an informed choice.
Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan, won a new seven-year term in the 6 November 2013 elections with 83.1 percent of the votes. The Tajik Central Election Commission (CEC) announced the turnout was 86.6 percent. Rahmon, who is in power in the poorest former Soviet republic since 1992, thus began his fourth term. He has increased the number and length of the president’s terms by revising the constitution through a referendum. The term he is currently facing will be his last one, according to the constitution.
Rahmon ran in the presidential campaign against five little-known, even inside the country, and largely loyal candidates. Among these candidates were Secretary of the Communist Party and MP Ismoil Talbakov, Chairman of the Democratic Party Saidjafar Ismonov, Chairman of the Socialist Party Abduhalim Gafforov, representative of the Agrarian Party Tolibbek Bukhoriev and Chairman of the Party of Economic Reform Olimjon Boboyev. The two main parties in the opposition, the Islamic Revival Party (IRP) led by Muhiddin Kabiri and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) led by Rahmatullo Zoirov created the Coalition of Reformist Forces and put forward the candidature of female rights lawyer Oinihol Bobonazarova.
However, the potentially most significant rival candidate of the moderate opposition Islamic Revival Party, was banned from the polls after failing to collect the necessary 210,000 signatures of eligible voters to be officially registered. The OSCE stated on this that "restrictive requirements, including the unreasonably large number of signatures potential candidates must gather to qualify, present significant obstacles and are at odds with OSCE commitments and other standards for democratic elections".
|Candidate||Party||% of the votes|
|Emomali Rahmon||People's Democratic Party||83,07 %|
|Ismoil Talbakov||Communist Party||4,99 %|
|Tolibbek Bukhoriev||Agrarian Party||4,57 %|
|Olimjon Boboyev||Party of Economic Reforms||3,87 %|
|Abdulhalim Ghafforov||Socialist Party||1,49 %|
|Saidja'tar Ismonov||Democratic Party||1,00 %|
‘Election without a real choice’
The opposition accuses Rahmon of developing a personality cult. Rahmon himself denies this claim. A main opposition party, the Social Democratic Party, boycotted the elections due to "violations of the constitution, organised falsifications and a lack of democracy and transparency". A group of international observers has said the Tajik presidential election lacked pluralism and genuine choice. Presidential adviser to the OSCE’s Parliamentary Assembly, Andres Baker, said together with an OSCE observer in Dushanbe that "while quiet and peaceful, this was an election without a real choice". "While there was extensive state media coverage of the official activities of the incumbent president, that meant that he had a significant advantage throughout the campaign", Baker added.
Rahmon’s supporters credit him with securing peace and stability in the wake of the country’s five year civil war in the 1990s. However, he is widely criticized for marginalizing the opposition, cracking down on independent media, and mishandling the economy. Besides, Tajikistan has no record of free and fair elections. In spite of the easy victory, critics have said Rahmon will face rising social tension in his country where about 50 percent of the population lives in poverty. More than one million Tajiks migrants work abroad, especially in Russia, sending money home to their families.
- OSCE report elections 2015
- Election Guide elections 2013
- General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord in Tajikistan
- Akbarzadeh (2006), Geopolitics versus Democracy in Tajikistan
- Iji (2005), Cooperation, Coordination and Complementarity in International Peacemaking: The Tajikistan Experience.