How to Choose a Platform – Rather Than a Persona – in Kyrgyzstan
A new website offers an alternative to the humdrum personality-driven politics on Central Asia’s rocky “Island of Democracy.”On September 27, the Dutch environmental NGO Milieukontakt International launched vybirai.org. The site offers visitors easy-to-use tools to compare political parties’ promises before Kyrgyzstan’s October 10 parliamentary polls. According to Wouter Pronk, the project’s senior manager, the site was modelled on previous Milieukontakt initiatives that allowed voters to make green choices by contrasting the environmental policies of parties in European countries. Kyrgyzstan’s vybirai.org – meaning choose.org in Russian – differs in that it focuses on all aspects of a party’s campaign pledges, from education and the economy to foreign policy.Though a noble attempt, the site is unlikely to foster a change in the way campaigns are conducted, at least this time around. At a launch event, Pronk admitted there were faults with the initiative, but said that Milieukontakt and local partner organizations had “proceeded from the assumption that parties take their manifesto promises seriously.” The comment produced a ripple of laughter among the assembled.
Chris Rickleton is a journalist based in Almaty.