Uzbekistani’s Pursuits of Politicization & Democratization
*Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
According to the Uzbek Central Election Commission (CEC) Parliamentary Elections for the lower house (deputies of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis) of the country's parliament in the Republic of Uzbekistan will be held on December 22, 2019 for which election campaign has already been started in the various part of the country. For the further strengthening of national drive of politicization and democratization, simultaneously, local election (deputies of local Kengashes) will also be held in the country wherein all political parties are free to participate which is "In accordance with Article 117 of the Constitution of Uzbekistan, popular elections in the Oliy Majlis.
The upcoming parliamentary and local elections will be held not according to the proportional system, but according to the majority electoral system. Elections to the Legislative Chamber and local councils are held on the basis of a multi-party system in territorial single-member constituencies. The Central Election Commission said that, in accordance with article 36 of the Electoral Code, the election campaign for the election of deputies of the Legislative Chamber and deputies of local councils has been announced.
According to the Uzbek Central Election Commission (CEC) for the first time in accordance with the new Electoral Code and registered political parties now have the right to nominate candidates not only in 135, but in all 150 constituencies which will definitely further strengthen its pursuits towards further politicization and democratization. Now, Milliy Tiklanish Democratic Party, People’s Democratic Party, Movement of Entrepreneurs and Businesspeople, the Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan, Social Democratic Party Adolat and the Ecological Party of Uzbekistan nominate their candidates to compete for 150 seats in the lower house of parliament.
The Republic of Uzbekistan is a democratic country where ballots dominate over concentration of power. It is the only country in the world which has its own “Magna Carta” (the Great Charter of the Liberties) and “Social Contract” from centuries because it has very rich civilization, culture, heritage and traditions which are all based on rule of the law i.e. democracy.
In Uzbekistan suffrage is universal for individuals 18 years of age and older. All aspects of elections, particularly registration by parties and independent candidates, are controlled by the government’s Central Election Commission. An election is legally valid if more than 50 percent of eligible voters participate and a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the votes.
Transparency, fair-play, equal opportunity and free choice are the “Bible of modern democracy” and elections and Uzbekistan is the “real home” of it. Their just execution tends to open the numerous ways of further political stability, democratization and socio-economic sustainability and for centuries Uzbekistan is the resultant of it. Their ideal combination promotes spirits of decency, rule of the law and accountability in the systems and societies and now Uzbekistan has the best “good governance” system in the region. Most recently, World Bank report (September 2019), Uzbekistan has been rated among the best 20 reformed country in the world.
It is indeed a pioneer & champion of “Grass-root Democracy (GRD)” i.e. devolution of power and “Local Public Administration System (LPDS)” even older than classical Athens walled democracy. It is still better and functional as compare to modern democracies of the west where people have been subjugated to artificial national interests. But in Uzbekistan people have free choice in the elections. All the parties in the Republic of Uzbekistan have already started their political pre-election campaigns in the country in order to actively participate in the upcoming elections 2019.
Moreover, democracy functions in all its true spirits in Republic of Uzbekistan. Democracy stands for the rights of people which are fully enacted throughout the country. Democracy is “for the people, by the people and of the people” which has already been institutionalized so many years ago in Uzbekistan.
It has a stable political system wherein, all important organs of the state work jointly for the betterment of its people. Uzbekistan is the real coronation of “Modern Trinity” which is purely based on fair, free and transparent elections, stable political system, functional democracy which caters human survival, socio-economic prosperity, protection of basic human rights and custodian of freedom of expression, national sovereignty and people’s prosperity.
Uzbekistan has the easiest and smoothest way for genuine power sharing and gross-root participation among the CIS and in the world which provides political stability and economic sustainability. Due to which right from the beginning, there has been no incident of political chaos, constitutional deadlock, or social alienation in Uzbekistan. It has been resultant of befitting political wisdom and hope for betterment for all the people. Infinite voyage of political and democratic reforms has now transformed its national as well as regional political parties, society, civility, economics, administration and state craftsmanship alike.
The government of Uzbekistan has been rigorously working on the motto of H.E. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev "New Uzbekistan, new elections" since 2016 which shows his untiring efforts to establish a vibrant society, articulated political system and a befitting economic system based on “good governance” for achieving desired goals of socio-economic prosperity in the country.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has pursued a diversified but integrated national policy to transform Uzbekistan’s decision-making processes, invigorate civil society, encourage healthy and productive political competition, address human rights and develop a civic culture consistent with the country’s status as a modernizing, forward-looking regional power in Eurasia with a steadily increasing majority of citizens under the age of 30.
The ongoing various reforms initiated by President Mirziyoyev hold the promise of reshaping the domestic political landscape, changing the fundamental relationship between the citizen and state, and rebalancing the geopolitical order in a region. During his presidential campaign he promised to achieve greater levels of openness and transparency serving the people. For achieving his goal President Mirziyoyev issued three key documents: A Program to Reform the Judicial and Legal System; an Action Strategy on Five Priority Areas of the Country’s Development for 2017-2021; and a “Concept” of Administrative Reform.
The Program and Action Strategy focus on ensuring the rule of law, reforming the judicial system, promoting economic liberalization, and the development of the social sphere, contains numerous sub-objectives which, if fully implemented, will fundamentally transform the relationship between Uzbekistan’s government and its people, and elevate independent civic advocacy organizations and informal institutions, such as Mahallas, to the status of partners of the government.
The Concept for Administrative Reform aims to result in an effective and transparent system of public administration capable of protecting the rights of citizens and bolstering Uzbekistan’s economic competitiveness globally. It defined six priority areas, among which are; “the improvement of the institutional, organizational, and legal framework of the executive authorities’ activities” and “the formation of an effective system of professional civil service, and the introduction of effective mechanisms to combat corruption in the system of executive authorities.”
There have also been steps to change Uzbekistan’s electoral system and the situation concerning political parties. Constitutional changes already in 2014, sought to redistribute power between the parliament and the executive, granting more decision-making power and control over the executive to the Parliament. In this connection, President Mirziyoyev proposed to make governors and mayors directly elected by the people, as opposed to appointed by the President. In August 2017, legislation was amended by decree to allow for the direct election of Khokims of Wiloyats and the city of Tashkent, and set a date for Tashkent city elections, which took place on December 24, 2017.
It is hoped that further substantive changes to local and regional government, with the likelihood of many new faces in positions of authority, all of them popularly elected for the first time in Uzbekistan’s independent statehood. Direct local elections are a necessary for further politicization and democratization in the country. President prodded parliamentarians to get out of their offices and travel around the country to meet people, especially the youth, hear their concerns and come back with proposals on how to resolve the problems identified by citizens.
He urged them to analyze proposed legislation and propose improvements. Parliamentarians now regularly visit rural areas, where they have appeared in live talk shows, used social media, participated in focus groups, and tried overall to become more connected with their constituents. Expanded competition among the five legally-registered political parties is likely to stimulate them to refine their platforms, redouble efforts to support gender equality and inclusion, engage more of the country’s young and future voters, and seek diversity within their ranks. The emergence of a more open political system that embraces freedom of speech, association and assembly will offer an opportunity for all political actors to flourish.
President Mirziyoyev also introduced various reforms in civil society. The government now seeks to view civil society as an ally in its reform agenda. It was manifested in numerous legislative amendments and initiatives to ease the ability of NGOs to operate in the country. Since Mirziyoyev took office as Interim President in September 2016, 685 local civic advocacy organizations have successfully registered with the Ministry of Justice, more than an 8 percent increase. But most importantly, the President has also introduced meaningful reforms in the offices of Prosecutor General’s office and the National Security Service. The Action Strategy prioritizes education as the cornerstone of the government’s approach to the rising generation, calling for greater standardization of basic education and for gender equality.
President Mirziyoyev has demonstrated a commitment to revisiting Uzbekistan’s human rights record on an international scale. One key step in this regard was the invitation extended to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Uzbek government announced it would allow a permanent representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to be based in Tashkent, and invited Human Rights Watch to resume activities in the country. Among tasks still to be faced are to implement reforms of local government, promote accountability and transparency, implement direct elections for regional and local Khokims, encourage Mahallas to cooperate with local government, and follow through on the democratization program, as set forth in the Action Strategy.
Concept of people’s free choice is one the main pillars of modern mode of governance around the globe. It reflects collective wisdom of its local people. It upholds the international standards of fair-play, transparency and impartiality in the electoral process. Ultimately, it translates people’s choice in shape of parliament and recently held parliamentary elections of the Republic of Uzbekistan is the prime example of it.
In Uzbekistan, people use to elect their representatives at every stage of political contest. Local elections, parliamentarian election (lower & upper) and Presidential Elections are arranged according to any international standard in Uzbekistan where common people are absolutely free to cast their votes and ultimately “collective choice” prevails.
Moreover, 20 million voters will participate in the upcoming elections 2019 including 2 million youth who will vote for the first time. Nearly 10,000 ballot boxes will be used in 150 separate constituencies throughout the country. Elections for regional, city and district councils will also be held on the same day. Afterwards, the senate (Upper House) will be formed following the elections for the lower house of parliament. The last parliamentary elections were held in 2014.
The last parliamentary election held in December 2014 witnessed that 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. According to the electoral law of Uzbekistan, only political parties may nominate candidates to parliament. The bicameral parliament has been operating in Uzbekistan since 2005. The 150-seat lower house was last elected in December 2014.
To honor the golden principles of modern democracy i.e. transparency, fair-play, equal opportunity and free choice, parliamentary elections for the lower house (deputies of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis) and local election (deputies of local Kengashes) have been announced in the country.
Uzbekistan is now full swing preparing for the upcoming parliamentary and local. The Central Elections Commission of Uzbekistan being an independent organ of the “State” has already announced “schedule” of the upcoming elections to be held on December 22, 2019. Moreover, it has also announced different parameters to be followed for any political party and its candidates in the country.
The Republic of Uzbekistan has a progressive “Constitution” which is ultimate “Custodian” of all political process. It patronizes democratic spirits, procedures and mechanism to run the affairs of the state and the government alike. It has “Presidential Democracy” as the US, France, Brazil, Germany, Russia and many other countries around the world.
Both houses are independent and transparent. Both houses of “Uzbek Parliament” have one of the most educated, sensible, and political motivated members and the last but not the least, socially charged “Electoral College” in the region.
Uzbekistan has “Multi-Parties” democracy in its country. For the first time five political parties will participate in the upcoming elections. On its part, major political parties have started their rigorous consultations and process of nominations of their candidates at the highest levels. All political parties have equal rights to participate in the upcoming elections 2019. All political parties have rights of electoral meetings, campaigns and media projections to seek votes from the common people.
Moreover, every political party has the right to appoint an “Observer” at each polling station. Representatives of the print media, TV and radio, observers from other states, international organizations and movements have the right to observe all the process of elections. Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE ODIHR) will send its 300 members for upcoming elections in the country.
Uzbek’s mass media is vibrant and dynamic. It is independent and innovated. It is vast and vocal. It has the largest media groups, newspapers and social media presence in the entire CIS. Its mass media is free in its operations and interpretations.
Media is considered to be “4th pillar” of the modern state and democracy alike which is very much active and neutral in the Uzbekistan. Its plays very important role in holding free, fair and transparent elections in most parts of the world not confined to European Union, USA, Brazil, Turkey and India etc. Its country wide media coverage makes elections proceedings balance, equal and fair in Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan has one of the most outspoken and vivacious “Civil Society” in the region which diversified but integrated role is immense. It acts as “balancing act” during the process of “Elections”. Its role is productive which upholds “credibility” of the electoral process in all the elections in Uzbekistan. It role is supportive to meet the international standards of democratic norms and elections.
Role of “International Observes” has become “crucial” in any elections and treated as the “Basic Necessity” of Western Democracy. Since Uzbekistan is an open, connected and transparent society which tends to invite a large numbers of international observes to witness the process of elections in the country. They all participate in each and every process of elections and independently give their observations and comments.
Participation of foreign and international observers in the parliamentary and local elections of the Republic of Uzbekistan further strengthen and reconfirm the principles of transparency and openness of the entire electoral process, respect for the principles of democratic elections such as: universality, equality, freedom and secret ballot in Uzbekistan.
The Central Election Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan has already sent the official invitation to the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS Executive Committee), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) to observe the elections of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are autonomous and widely spread in the Republic of Uzbekistan which caters the process of any elections in the country. Their active participation upholds Uzbek’s spirits of fair, free and transparency in every election.
Due to upcoming parliamentary and local elections, Uzbek society is now politically charged and will actively participate in the upcoming elections. Political parties are rigorous engaged with their supporters to win the “political battle through ballots”. International observers have been invited to observe the complete process of elections. Civil Society is dynamic and ready to play its supportive role in the upcoming presidential elections. NGOs are human asset to Uzbekistan which will demonstrate its effectiveness during the elections.
The Republic of Uzbekistan is a “Democratic Country” where every decision is taken through an established political process. Its political system is strong, stable and sustainable and political dispensation has been marginalized through the collective choice of common people which are the real “Conquerors of Democracy”.
In all modern democracies path of further political stability and deepening of socio-economic sustainability rest on the continuity of the Political System. Being a knowledge based economy it has already further deepened the process of politicization and democratization process in the country due to which elections in Uzbekistan have been held on the basis of total transparency, fair-play, equal opportunity and the last but not the least people’s free choice.
During the years of independence in Uzbekistan as a result of consistent and onward modernization of political, public and judicial system has established an electoral system, which meets the most modern democratic values and standards. A strong legislative base has been formed in the country which has now incorporated the basic principles of a number of international law acts the foundation of the electoral legislation of the republic is its constitution.
It has now a solid legal basis, the basis of which, surely, upcoming elections will be held according to the Constitution of the country. Its electoral system has an objectivity which has further strengthened by so many legal regulations. All these laws have passed successfully through the test of time and have shown effectiveness in the previous elections of Parliament and Presidency.
Uzbekistan Central Elections Commission has already taken all possible measures to conduct the upcoming elections in Uzbekistan by the most transparent and democratic way. It has created all conditions for the forthcoming political events in an atmosphere of openness in which people can make their choice. Upcoming parliamentary and local elections 2019
Elections 2016 will be an important step toward building a democratic state and strengthening the foundations of the republic’s prosperity.
In all the modern democracies, parliaments play very important and role of the parliament of Uzbekistan has been significantly increased. Several laws have been adopted in the country which was initiated by MPs, representatives of the various parties. There is no doubt that the upcoming elections will be transparent, and people will choose a worthy candidate and respected leader.
Being prominent regional expert of Uzbekistan, I rate that the Republic of Uzbekistan is a modern democratic country where elections are conducted with complete transparency, fair and free manners of international standards. All branches of democracy i.e. Parliament (both houses), Prime Minister and President jointly work for the uplifting of constitution which guarantees all freedoms and liberties to common people. It is a democratic country where people are free to choose its members of the Parliament and Presidency.
Its society is highly vibrant because of the so many political reforms. It has so many NGOs to protect the best interests of the common people. Its Central Elections Commission has already invited so many international observers to freely monitor the process of upcoming Presidential Elections to be held on December 4, 2016.
Uzbekistan has high level of democratization of society in which the elections are the important political process. Uzbekistan is organized country and able to carry out such a complex events as the election at a high level. It is promoted by accumulated experience of Uzbekistan in this field and the development of the legal basis for strengthening the electoral system. It ensures openness and transparency of the electoral process which is a guarantee of the implementation of the electoral rights of citizens. During the election campaign, the mass media is not only the main channel for informing the voters, but also an important instrument of social control
Since independence the Republic of Uzbekistan has taken so many reforms for the further “Democratization of the Electoral System and Legislation”. It has had taken all possible measures to build a modern electoral system in the country in accordance with international standards. Over the years of independence due to consistent modernization of political, state and legal system has been created the national electoral system corresponding with the highest democratic requirements.
It has already institutionalized gross-root political participation of common people in the decision making of the government through various elections in the country on regular basis. Proper legislation has further strengthened democratic principles of the election formed on basis of universally recognized international norms and principles.
The principles of freedom of choice and expression, primarily, the constitutional right of everyone to vote and be elected to representative bodies of state power serves as a basis of a national model of Uzbekistan’s statehood. Reforms in the sphere of election are systemic, coherent and interrelate.
Moreover, giving the CEC status of the constitutional body, takes a special place in the system of state power, which provides practical preparation and holding of elections without any interference from other state bodies is an important guarantee of comprehensive support the democratic, open and transparent elections.
Regular holding of elections, i.e. election to the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, regional, district and city Kengashes (Councils) of people’s deputies and the election of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan have reaffirmed importance of its modern electoral system. Their successfully conduct are important step in formation of state authorities, strengthening the democratic foundations of sovereignty of the people, the further development of the country along with building a law-governed state and strong civil society.
For the first in the political history of Uzbekistan five political parties namely Milliy Tiklanish Democratic Party, People’s Democratic Party, Movement of Entrepreneurs and Businesspeople, the Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan, Social Democratic Party Adolat and the Ecological Party of Uzbekistan will participate in the upcoming Parliamentary and local election. For the first time all the five political parties will nominate candidates not only in 135, but in all 150 constituencies which will definitely further strengthen its pursuits towards further politicization and democratization.
The main priorities of its dynamic Constitution are promoting values of democracy and secular civil society, protection of human rights, creation of a socially oriented free market economy. It has performed gigantic tasks for creation of the political, legal and constitutional foundations of a new state system which consolidated of a new system of economic and social relations.
It is hoped that upcoming parliamentary and local elections to be held on December 22, 2019 will change the political landscape of Uzbekistan wherein, free will of common people will decide the results of winners. It is hoped that since new elections are being contested on the new motto of H.E. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev "New Uzbekistan, new elections” will bring drastic positive and productive changes in the overall political system of the Uzbekistan.
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