Kyrgyzstan’s Stillborn Coalition
Inhale deeply, again. Three days after we breathed a collective sigh of relief that Kyrgyzstan’s squabbling politicians had somehow, after six weeks of backroom dealing, agreed to form a governing coalition, that “coalition” did not gather enough votes – from its own members – to assume power.
During a late, secret vote on December 2, the designated speaker, Omurbek Tekebayev, only received 58 votes, AKIpress reports. Sixty-one of the parliament’s 120 are required. The coalition-that-shall-not-be – comprising Tekebayev’s own Ata-Meken, the Social Democratic Party, and Respublika – holds 67 seats, highlighting dissension in the ranks.
The parliament has gone into crisis mode and Social Democrat leader Almazbek Atambayev, the would-be prime minister, says he intends to ask provisional President Roza Otunbayeva to pass the mandate for forming a coalition onto another party.
Ironically, the president has already said the next faction to try would be Tekebayev’s. Unless she changes her mind (or Tekebayev agrees to a post lower than speaker – unlikely), the next round of coalition building will be hard going.
Many say Tekebayev – who is deeply distrusted in Moscow and described disparagingly as “pro-Western” – is too much of a liability for either coalition since good relations with Russia are vital to Kyrgyzstan’s economic health. Tekebayev, author of the new constitution approved in June, has been described as a tragic political figure: He has kept a low profile since the October 10 elections, when, after the Russian media attacked him during the campaign, his party – a frontrunner in the polls – barely squeaked into parliament.
If Tekebayev fails, as many expect, according to the constitution the president will appoint a coalition herself. If that fails: more elections and more political uncertainty for Kyrgyzstan.
David Trilling is Eurasianet’s managing editor.