Anyone following Tajikistan’s presidential election cycle knows that Imomali Rahmon is a cinch to win another seven-year term on November 6. But the lack of genuine electoral options is a source of frustration for an important constituency – the million-strong community of Tajik labor migrants in Russia.
Tajiks working in Russia are estimated to make up at least one-quarter of the electorate. Though their remittances contribute the equivalent of almost half Tajikistan’s GDP, guest workers do not comprise part of Rahmon's base. Most have fled a relentless economic crisis to scrape out a living abroad, often toiling under dangerous and hostile conditions, far from their families.
In a competitive election, the vote of this migrant population could swing the outcome and would be something that politicians eagerly courted. But throughout the campaign authorities have kept the migrant population marginalized, its leaders complain.
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David Trilling is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.