The spectacle of Kyrgyzstan’s politicians campaigning for votes ahead of the October 4 parliamentary elections cannot but bring to mind the words of Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter. “A party is a group whose members propose to act in concert in the competitive struggle for political power,” he wrote in his 1942 classic Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy.
That definition seems particularly tricky to apply to the political situation in Kyrgyzstan. After five years of cross-party defections and intra-party mutinies, the 120-member lists drawn up by the 14 parties competing in next month’s elections create an impression that parties in Kyrgyzstan tend to be fragile coalitions of convenience that target a regionally divided electorate.
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