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New Uzbekistan & New Elections

*Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan 

Parliamentary and municipal elections will be held on December 22, 2019 in the Republic of Uzbekistan which has been inspired from the new motto “New Uzbekistan & New Elections”. Democracy is an “evolutionary process” in which befitting “collective political wisdom” and “rule of the law” are always on the “driving seat” whereas; in Uzbekistan it has been institutionalized and entered now into “revolutionary phase”.

It has been “people’s free will” and “voter’s free choice” which has been dominated each and every “political transition” in Uzbekistan. So “change” is not implemented in Uzbekistan through mass protests and processions which has now become a necessary “gizmo” for political or regime change (Hong Kong, Spain, Iraq, Syria, Algeria, Yemen, Brazil etc.) but through simple and pure political process.     

Uzbekistan is the “biggest democracy” in the “Central Asian Region” which has been further “transmuted” and “remodeled” through further politicization and democratization. Democracy stands for “dynamics” and not for “dynasties” as in so many Middle East and South East regions. Uzbekistan’s democracy is the “vivid reflection” of its development, diplomacy and dialogue orientations since centuries which has been taking care of its people. Its democracy does not worship “personal wealth”, “obsession of power”, “monetary gains”, “financial bounties”, “formation of cronies”, “marginalization of ethnic groups”, “gender discrimination”   and “salvation” as communally pursued and practiced in the so called civilized “Western World’s Democracies”.

Moreover, Uzbekistan’s democracy does not rely on extreme “rightist” of leftist” “philosophies and prophecies” as it has already sieged the national and regional politics of Eastern, Central and Western European countries alike. The recent elections in Spain, France, Germany, Poland and Belgium clearly depict deceitful “societal division” because of “perpetual manipulation” of “politics of hatred”, ethnic orientation, “Islamophobia”, brutal marginalization of other faiths and “political pandemonium”.

Uzbekistan’s democracy banks on “people’s connectivity”, easy excess to “power corridor” and mass participation through principles of accountability, community development (Mohalla System), decentralization of political and financial powers (Pakistan’s local bodies has become dormant because of absence of financial powers to local bodies), separation of power, independent judiciary (dubious conventions in most of the African, Middle East and South East regions), rule of the law and provisions of basic human rights.

Uzbekistan’s democracy is not a “money-minting machine” wherein “lucrative funds” are usually collected by “political bosses” to issue “tickets” for different “contests and slots” during the elections. It does not support any kind of “cartelization” (socio-politico-economic) in the country but on the contrary unfortunately, it has become “stamp and seal” of all the “Western Democracies”.                                

The chairman of the Central Election Commission Mirzo-Ulugbek Abdusalomov has rightly termed nomination of candidates for deputies of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, regional, district and city Kengashes of people's deputies an important process of the electioneering. It has been conducting on the basis of legality, justice and sensible political decision in finalizing the candidates.

Election “campaign” is in full swing in Uzbekistan. Article 9 of the Electoral Code permits formation of constituencies (delimitation has been a serious issue in so many regional democracies especially in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh etc.) the maximum permissible deviation of the number of voters by constituencies, as a rule, should not exceed ten percent. In the past, there was no specific laws and decrees in this regard which has now been ratified. It has now further strengthened concept of “fair-play” in the post-election scenarios which is political rarity in most of the countries. Elections of deputies of the Legislative Chamber and local Kengashes will also be held on the same day which gives sense of political maturity and mass participation.

The district election commission for the election of deputies of the Legislative Chamber is formed by the Central Election Commission, at least seventy days before the election. Candidates for members of the district election commissions are nominated by the Zhokargy Kenes of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, regional and Tashkent city councils of people's deputies. To conduct the election of deputies of the Legislative Chamber, 150 territorial constituencies has been are formed. Interestingly, the Central Election Commission of Uzbekistan does not permit any candidate to stand for more than one seat/ constituency which some Western Countries label as small political activity. But on the contrary, it a sensible administrative and political move (in Pakistan any candidate can eligible to contest election for National Assembly/Parliament lower house, more than one seat even in other province which promotes people’s disconnection, controversy and conspiracy). So, Western propaganda is unsubstantiated.      In Uzbekistan one deputy is elected from each constituency which promotes “people’s connectivity”, “sense of political” “ownership and social loyalty”. The boundaries of constituencies for the election of deputies of the Legislative Chamber have been finalized mainly relying on the administrative-territorial structure of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, regions and the city of Tashkent, as a rule, with an equal number of voters throughout the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan. For better understanding and of new electoral codes, rules and procedures the Central Election Commission along with the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, leading universities, ministries of justice, the development of information technologies and communications, other educational, scientific, practical, research institutions, experts and practitioners have been indulged in seminar-training programs since the announcement of new elections to be held On December 22, 2019.

More than 50 thousand candidates for chairmen, vice-chairmen and secretaries of election commissions have been fully trained in Uzbekistan. Currently, the next stage of training seminars continues. Before the election, training is planned for only 180 thousand people.

In the past many Western Countries objected on the non-availability of electronic voters list which has now been ratified. The new electronic voter list is a state information resource containing information on citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan over 18 years of age, with permanent or temporary registration and total number of voters (20 million & 2 million new young voters) which shows high levels of youthfulness and excitement in its political system.  

The introduction of modern information technologies in the election process simplifies the work of not only election commissions, but also creates convenience for voters ( jamming of Real-time strategy (RTS) system in Pakistan election 2018 created not so pleasant sense of real ownership). Now citizens can easily participate in the voting by familiarizing themselves with data on polling stations. The Elections-2019 mobile application (search of voter list and voting polling station has been a time consuming and tedious exercise in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives etc.) has been introduced in Uzbekistan which contains regulatory documents, training materials, questions and answers, tests, audio and video materials. The application allows you to quickly get the necessary information. There will be many “News” in the upcoming election in Uzbekistan in terms of total (5 from 4) political parties (National Revival Party, the People's Democratic Party, the Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan, the Adolat Social Democratic Party and the Ecological Party), total candidates for lower house (150 from 135), direct voting for every constituency (previously only 135 candidates were elected directly 15 were obliged to elect with discretions), joint voting for Parliamentary, and municipal/city/district elections, 2 million new young voters etc.        

The five political parties scheduled to compete in upcoming parliament and municipal election are all already present in the parliament: the Liberal Democratic Party (730,000 members; Presidents Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Islam Karimov were the party’s candidates), the People’s Democratic Party (490,000 members), the Social-Democratic Party “Adolat” (380,000 members), the Democratic Party “Milliy Tiklanish” (300,000 members) and the Ecological Movement (245,000 members). (The Ecological Movement’s 15 seats in parliament are allocated and selected within the movement, not elected).

In accordance with the Article 72 of the Election Code of Uzbekistan, Head of the “Adolat” SDP of Uzbekistan, the Liberal-Democratic party of Uzbekistan, Milliy Tiklanish” DP and Ecologic party applied to the Central Election Commission a request to register candidates for deputies to the Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Difference of opinion is the beauty of democracy which leads towards further diversity and development of the political system and Uzbekistan is not any exemption. On the political spectrum, the People’s Democratic Party and the Social-Democratic Party “Adolat” are on the left and on the right are the Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party “Milliy Tiklanish but no political party follows politics of extremism, discrimination, and disintegration” The latter two parties are in the majority in the parliament, they are aligned in a democratic block. 

Milliy Tiklanish and the Liberal Democratic parties seem to be campaigning against each other. Specifically, the Liberal Democratic Party recently accused Milliy Tiklanish of copying its ideology and campaigning style from Turkey’s ruling party. Milliy Tiklanish was criticized for a lack of independent thinking as a result. So, political difference is there to attract more and more voters because democracy is not a robotic mechanism.

Some 20 million Uzbek people will take part in the elections to be held on December 22, 2019. Nearly 10,000 ballot boxes will be used in 150 separate constituencies throughout the country. The last parliamentary election held in December 2014 witnessed Uzbekistan Liberal Democratic Party gained 52 seats, Uzbekistan National Revival Democratic Party had 36 seats, People's Democratic Party of Uzbekistan 27, Justice Social Democratic Party 20 and Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan had 15 seats.

It is hoped that upcoming parliamentary elections in Uzbekistan to be held on December 22, 2019 will be fair, free and transparent and up to the mark of international requirements. During the development of the various meaningful codes, the experience of more than 50 countries was thoroughly studied. The New Electoral Code (NEC) was initiated by President H.E. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, brought together the norms of nearly 30 previously existing legislative documents, including five laws regulating relations related to the preparation and conduct of elections of the country’s president, deputies of the Legislative Chamber, members of the Senate, deputies regional, district and city kengashes that regulated the activities of the CEC, as well as guarantees ensuring the free expression of the will of citizens

In accordance with the Electoral Code, election commissions are now authorized to consider complaints from individuals and legal entities about violations of suffrage, conduct checks on these complaints and give written answers within three days. Moreover, the election commissions are obliged to respond to appeals received less than six days before the election or on Election Day. The Electoral Code also excluded the restriction on the participation in elections of persons held in prison for crimes that do not constitute a great public danger. Political parties, representatives of self-government bodies have also been obliged to observe the elections which will enhance transparency and public accountability of the electoral process. The Electoral Code establishes a 30 percent quota for women when nominating candidates for deputies is of great importance.

Uzbekistan’s upcoming election 2019 has now the unified electronic voter list (EESI), which currently includes 20.5 million citizens of Uzbekistan. It will allow the formation of a single electoral portal, allowing the electorate to receive all the election data on the CEC website. It has been pursued for the last two years after the adoption of a decree of the president of the country on measures to introduce modern information and communication technologies in the electoral process. “When developing this innovative election mechanism, foreign experience in this direction was thoroughly studied. Other information technologies are also planned for the parliamentary elections.

It is an electronic database of constituencies and precincts, members of their commissions with the subsequent publication of this information on the official website of the CEC, an electronic database of candidates for deputies of all levels, an interactive map of constituencies and precincts, an official website and social networks.

The “Saylov-2019” mobile application („Elections-2019“) has already been established which contains regulations, information on election commissions, guidelines, training materials, etc. A call center is available at the CEC international press center where you can get answer to any questions about the election. All this will make the upcoming elections as open and transparent at the highest level.

In the parliamentary elections and local representative bodies, which will be held under the motto “New Uzbekistan-New Elections,” it is planned to form over 16 thousand electoral districts and precincts, including more than 50 outside of Uzbekistan. In accordance with the Electoral Code, election campaigning is not allowed the day before the election and directly on Election Day.

To win the election, candidates will need to get 50 percent votes. Now, according to the Electoral Code, only political parties have the right to nominate candidates for deputies of parliament and local representative bodies, earlier they could nominate their own candidates and initiative groups, and local self-government bodies in regional, district and city Kengashes. The government has allocated significant resources for training participants in the electoral process with all the innovations laid

More than 600 foreign observers (from about 50 states, America, Europe, Asia and Africa and international organizations) will monitor the upcoming election in Uzbekistan. During the election campaign that has begun till day of voting, there will not be a single polling station closed to foreign observers.

Mass media plays very important role in the development of democracy and its norms. It is one of the most important tools of democracy, and democratic elections are impossible without the media. Free and fair elections support freedom of choice. It strengthens voter participation in public campaigns and the availability of information about political parties, candidates and the election process itself. It ensures the transparency of the process. It monitors and reports on election campaigns, ethical standards, international standards and ways to effectively use social networks, including their specific information requirements.

Parliamentary and municipal elections will be held on December 22, 2019 in the Republic of Uzbekistan will be another “bright manifestation” of advanced democratic ideas embodied in the “Strategy of Actions in Five Priority Areas for the Development of Uzbekistan, 2017-2021”. Upcoming elections are an “integral part” of the ongoing dynamic reforms in the political, legal, socio-economic, cultural, spiritual and educational fields. Being prominent regional expert of Uzbekistan & CIS, it is hoped that the principles of multi-party system, political pluralism, multilateralism, openness, transparency and tolerance will “further enhance” in the society of Uzbekistan.

During the election of deputies of the Legislative Chamber, local Kengashes by the district election commissions for the election of deputies of the Legislative Chamber will be formed single polling stations. During the current elections, all the necessary conditions have been created for the participation of all citizens of Uzbekistan living abroad. In order to implement the constitutional rights of citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan living abroad, the Central election Commission has developed and approved the relevant regulation.

So, for the first time, the Regulation on the procedure for the formation of polling stations at diplomatic missions and consular offices of the Republic of Uzbekistan in foreign countries was developed. Citizens living abroad temporarily or permanently are included in the voter lists of foreign polling stations on the basis of their appeals.

As part of improving the electoral system of the Republic of Uzbekistan, on June 25, 2019, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed the Law “On Approving the Electoral Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan”, adopted by the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis on February 18, 2019 and approved by the Senate on February 28, 2019. It combined the laws governing the organization and conduct of presidential, parliamentary and local representative bodies into one document, has important political significance in the country’s public life.

The Electoral Code consists of 18 chapters and 103 articles. The conceptual basis of the electoral system of the Republic of Uzbekistan is freedom of elections. Currently, political parties have begun their campaigning and debate through the media, as well as television, public information and telecommunication networks.

Non-governmental non-commercial organizations (NGOs) play a very important creative role in the formation of modern civil society in Uzbekistan, establishment of democracy and protection of citizens' rights and freedoms. Thus, the legal framework for active participation and effective use of the right of public control was established not only for representatives of political parties and responsible state bodies, but also representatives of citizens’ self-government bodies, NGOs and other civil society institutions.

According to the 32 article of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan shall have the right to participate in the management of public and state affairs, both directly and through representatives. Such participation shall be exercised by way of self-administration, holding referendums and democratic formation of state bodies, as well as development and enhancement of public control over the activity of state bodies. The procedure of implementing of public control over the activities of state bodies shall be defined by law.

The Republic of Uzbekistan has been “center of human intellect”, “wisdom”, “harmony”, “innovation”, “trade”, “culture and traditions” for centuries. Uzbek political manifestation has its own “unique model” which can be compared to any modern democracy of the world. Gradual development of modern political culture has been followed since its inception.

Essence of Uzbek Model of Democracy is the outcome of  its belief in humanity, sacrifice, service, development, dialogue, forwardness, pursuits of knowledge, smart thinking, national character embodied with pure patriotism but not prejudice. Beauty of Uzbek Democratic System is its positivity, prosperity and progression towards converging with the dreams of common people of qualitative life, better education, housing, clean drinking water, provision and protection of basic human rights.

To conclude, Uzbekistan’s democracy cherishes with development not destruction, consultation not conspiracy, maturity not mediocrity, political stability not subversion, humanity not horrendous crimes, forwardness not fatalness, harmony not hardness and above all people’s participation not continuation of dynasties.