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Kyrgyzstan: Local Voting Unsettles National Politics

The Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) of President Almazbek Atambayev, seen here during a political rally in March 2010, is being accused by other political parties of resorting to old political tricks and using undemocratic means for winning elections. (Photo: David Trilling)

Kyrgyzstan, the closest thing Central Asia has to a working democracy, just held municipal elections. The results are generating tension within the national governing coalition, fueling complaints that new voices are being stifled and causing some observers to raise the specter of a possible repeat of recent history.

Voters in five key municipalities in Kyrgyzstan – Bishkek, Batken, Jalal-Abad, Naryn and Talas – cast ballots November 25 to select new city councils, which choose mayors and make decisions on municipal spending.

President Almazbek Atambayev’s Social Democratic Party (SDPK) claimed seats on all five city councils, and registered a clear victory in strategically important Bishkek. It is unsurprising, then, that the SDPK’s rivals are crying foul about the alleged use of “administrative resources” – underhanded techniques designed to inflate the vote count on behalf of incumbent authorities and to quash political rivals.

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Chris Rickleton is a Bishkek-based journalist.

Kyrgyzstan: Local Voting Unsettles National Politics

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