The Social Democratic Party (SDPK) has won Kyrgyzstan’s Parliamentary elections, held on October 4th, and will be tasked to form a coalition government. With nearly all votes counted, the SDPK has received 27.5% of the votes , accounting for 38 seats in Parliament, according to the Central Election Commission’s (CEC) preliminary results. Apart from the SDPK, 5 other parties passed the threshold to enter the 120-member Parliament, including 2 new parties. 59% of the 2.7 million registered voters, who for the first time received biometric ID cards to counter election fraud, cast their ballots in “calm” elections.
A total of 14 parties participated in the elections, but only 6 of them passed the 7% threshold to enter Parliament. The opposition right-wing Respublika- Ata-Jurt (Fatherland) party, that merged in 2014, gained 20% of the vote and will have 28 seats in Parliament. The Kyrgyzstan party received 12.8% of the votes, and will have 18 seats in Parliament. The Onuguu (Progress) party garnered 9.3% of the votes and 13 seats in Parliament, while the Bir-Bol (Unity) party receives 8.4 % and 12 seats. Finally, the socialist Ata-Meken (Fatherland) just passed the threshold with 7.7% and will receive 11 seats in Parliament. It is the first time that Onuguu (Progress) and Bir-Bol (Unity) have been voted into Parliament.
According to the coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, which observed the elections in 500 polling stations in all districts, no “very serious irregularities” were reported. But there were some minor incidents reported, as in one of the polling stations the ballots were not stamped and a woman was caught processing a number of IDs belonging to students. Local media reported about local officials attempting to force teachers and students to vote for the SDPK. The Interior Ministry stated there were complaints about parties trying to buy votes and guaranteed that such allegations would be investigated. President Almazbek Atambaev, a former SDPK leader, urged voters to “choose stability” and expressed hope that “the Social Democrats will get more than 26 seats”. He has been accused of lobbying for his former party, which is against Kyrgyz law as the President is to be a neutral leader of the country. According to Atambaev “there was not a single rally all over the country, not a single protesting person. This indicates the results of the elections, shows their quality. It's amazing for our country”. The observer Mission of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States (CCTS) said that the elections were transparent, while the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) mission said the elections were fair and successful. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) praised the “lively and competitive elections” that are “unique in this region”.
Biometric ID cards
For the first time in Kyrgyzstan, and Central Asia, biometric ID cards were used to identify voters. The cards were used with a scanner to identify voters by their fingerprints in order to stamp out voter fraud. Japan and Switzerland contributed to the use and implementation of the new system. However, some minor technical problems were reported, and according to Deputy Prime Minister Taiyrbek Sarpashev 3 to 5% of the voters encountered trouble with the biometric voting. The head of the OSCE short-term observer mission in Kyrgyzstan, Ignacio Sanchez Amor, said some citizens did not pass the biometric registration out of fear for their security and “this limited their participation in elections and inclusion in the list of voters”. Prime Minister Temir Sariev said that the biometrics were the basis of the fair elections as it instilled the principle of “one voter, one vote”.
In the past years Kyrgyzstan, like many of the other former Soviet Republics in Central Asia, has moved closer to Russia. Russia remitted a large part of Kyrgyzstan’s debts to the country and hundreds of thousands Kyrgyz people work in Russia. President Atambaev has strong ties to Russian president Putin, while all the parties elected in Parliament have a pro-Russian position. Meanwhile relations between Kyrgyzstan and the US have cooled, since the Parliament voted to close the American airbase in the country. In the coming weeks the SDPK is expected to form a coalition. Possibly it will work together with its most likely allies, the Kyrgyzstan party, Onuguu (Progress) and Bir-Bol, who together received around 30% of the vote. Combined with the SDPK’s 27% of the vote, this coalition would have a solid majority in Parliament. The second biggest party, Republic-Ata-Jurt, also expressed hopes to form a coalition with the SDPK, which according to them would be an “efficient government”.