As of August 2, 34 political parties have declared their intention to run in Kyrgyzstan’s October 4 parliamentary elections. Kyrgyzstan’s 120-member parliament, called the Jogorku Kengesh, is one of the most dynamic in a region more often associated with pre-determined elections and rubber-stamp parliaments. The election campaign doesn’t begin–by law–until September 4. But it’s not difficult to imagine what will be up for discussion. The last parliamentary election took place six months after the 2010 revolution ousted then-President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Though the OSCE identified a few irregularities in that election, they reported that it “constituted a further consolidation of the democratic process.”
In recent months, however, Kyrgyzstan democratic progress has come into question. The country’s relationship with the United States has soured somewhat, while Kyrgyzstan seems to be drawing closer to Russia–the perpetual pendulum swing in Kyrgyz politics. President Almazbek Atambaev’s recent statements have been laced with anti-Western sentiment and conspiracy theories featuring the U.S. plotting a “color revolution” in the country are popular.
A pair of controversial laws–modeled on Russian laws banning “gay propaganda” and restricting “foreign agents”–and a referendum on constitutional reforms are being put on hold until the fall. They’ll likely still factor in the election with regard to nationalism, morality, and influence. It can be expected that unemployment, the Kumtor gold mine, and energy prices will make it into the election platforms as well.