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Uzbekistan’s 2011 Constitutional Reforms and Succession

Tinkering with constitutions in authoritarian nations rarely draws much attention,  and understandably so. In 2011, when Uzbekistan overhauled its constitution, the reforms appeared formal and cosmetic, since whatever the changes, President Islam Karimov remained firmly in control.

At least nominally, however, the reforms were a move toward some form of democratic transition. These were different times. Kyrgyzstan had been roiled by a revolution the year before, putting the region’s hard-men on edge, and the notion of Karimov’s now-disgraced eldest daughter, Gulnara Karimova, possibly being made prime minister was still considered within the realms of reason.

The aim of the constitutional fix was to balance power between the offices of the presidency, the legislature and the executive, as well as to strengthen the role of political parties. Since those four branches of influence all pulled in one direction — to support Karimov — the reform seemed like a cheap way of earning international brownie points while changing little.

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Uzbekistan’s 2011 Constitutional Reforms and Succession

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