Of the four candidates running in Uzbekistan’s special presidential election on December 4, only one really counts — Acting President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. All the same, the campaign has been unusual in that it has given some prominence to the also-rans and, in the process, has paid lip service to competitive democratic practices.
While incumbent authorities have given no indications that they intend to implement substantive reforms to shake up the ossified political system, they are making concerted efforts to convey the impression of change.
Since Uzbekistan gained independence in 1991, Soviet-style elections have been the norm. Before his sudden death earlier this year, former president Islam Karimov stood for election on four occasions and received around 90 percent of the vote each time.
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