Kyrgyzstan: impressions and predictions ten days before the presidential election
On the 30th of October, the presidential election will take place in Kyrgyzstan. This election will have a major impact on Central Asia as a whole. In fact, if the election is a success, it will encourage a democratic development in the entire region, which is desperately in need of it. On the contrary, if the election fails to be a step towards more democracy, this will crush down the hopes for a more democratic future, not only in what was a few years ago called the “Switzerland of Central Asia” but also in its neighbouring countries.
The author, René Cagnat, has recently carried out several interviews in Bishkek and has also been on trips to the South (12-15th of September) and the East and Centre (13-19th of October) of Kyrgyzstan. The article below depicts the impressions he has then collected.
*The social and economic situation is catastrophic but not to the extent that is usually described. Occasionally positive developments can be observed . These are the result of several things at the time: increase of illegal trade (in particular the re-exportation of Chinese goods), a good crop, money transfers coming from emigrated workers and quite a successful touristic season. All these developments make up for the losses caused by the events of spring 2010. However, the recent attack organized by Kyrgiz in Talas against foreign workers employed in a local gold mine has sent out a very negative message.
*The president Roza Otunbayeva enjoys quite a broad legitimacy. Her political prestige and dexterity could help avoid possible separatist movements and turmoil – even though the South still expresses mistrust against her.
*The most prominent mafia leaders have fled the country, leaving their teams on the ground alone and rendering their work much more difficult. Still, even if to a lesser extent than for the parliamentary elections on October 2010, it is expected to witness election fraud initiated by these different fractions – in the South of the country in particular. This is part of the local political culture.
*The preparation of the election runs quite smoothly as it is accompanied by military and police measures. There have been reports on unauthorized political meetings and roadblocks. The election campaign is under control.  Everybody knows that this election will be held under strict control (zhëstkoe nablioudenie). The propaganda of the different candidates has mostly been respected. But, mainly in Djalalabat, a few campaign posters have been damaged or even striped off. The population shows great interest in the election and follows the campaign on the news. At the same time, the registration rate of new voters is very low compared to the one for the last elections. Higher participation rates will therefore stand for successful and massive election fraud and not for an actual increase of participation.
*Atamabayev’s candidacy is widely supported throughout the country but not in the South where only the Uzbek minority supports him. Atambayev has been prime minister twice and is perceived as a well experienced political actor. An unofficial opinion poll gives him 45% of the votes in the first election round. His main opponents, Adakhan Madumarov and Kamchibek Takhiyev, whose majority of voters are in the South, would only get 30% according to this poll. Lately, Takhiyev enjoys more popularity than Madumarov whose TV appearances were quite disastrous. The Kirgyz in the North blame those two candidates for having a bad reputation abroad. If they were elected, the international community might not grant the financial support to Kyrgyzstan that it desperately needs. The 16 other candidates only play a figurative role but could prevent Atambayev from winning the election already during the first ballot.
*The presidential should go well. Given the local political culture, election fraud will take place but to a lesser extent than usual. It should only be quite massive in the South. Attacks against election offices or during the transfer of the ballot boxes from the election offices to the regional counting centres could occur. As it has been the case previously, ballot boxes might be exchanged with falsified ones clearly supporting the one or the other candidate.  Eyewitnesses were threatened and stayed silent. Other kinds of fraud could be ballot stuffing, buying electors’ votes (as proof the ballots are photographed), the use of votes from dead people or of the ones living abroad (e.g. the 600 000 emigrated Kyrgyz workers) or locally the manipulation of local election before sending them to national accounting. As for the 2010 parliamentary elections, this fraud could lead to very surprising election results. Particularly in the South it could translate into a great discrepancy between the voting intentions and the actual results.
* The contestation of the results will be especially severe if one of the candidates wins already during the first election round.  During a second ballot,the contestation would also be important and would be the expression of the cleavage between North and South.
*According to the electoral law, the second ballot (hypothesis that will most likely occur) will be organized on the 13th of November.  One of the risk scenarios could be a confrontation between a Northern – Atambayev, supported by Russia and the West (mostly Turkey) – and a Southern candidate during the second election round. The latter’s supporters would be more shady. Encouragement to commit election fraud would then be substantial. Even if the victory of a Southern candidate is possible , most likely it is Atambayev who will win this election with a tight majority. Hence, turmoil could occur but would be shut down by the upcoming winter season and a general Kyrgyz appeal to avoid partition. For the sake of stability and rapprochement, M. Madumarov could become vice-president. This new position in the state would then be created specially for him. Another Southern figure could become prime minister. This could be the actual president of the Chamber of Deputies M. Keldibekov or M. Marat Sultanov a former minister.
*A fair presidential election would be a strong sign against the corruption currently ruling the country and a step towards more democracy. The majority of the Kyrgyz population is tired of the ongoing political instability, craves for better living conditions and appeals to a democratic development. Unfortunately the vices of illegality, conflict and anti-democracy are already at work…
 local initiatives, road construction, improvement of the urban infrastructure, creation of small companies etc.
 Apparently Almazbek Atambayev has been publicly provoked on the website Centre-Asia which is launched by the NGO “Free Bloggers and Journalists”. The provocation did not get the expected resonance though. Also, the Russian TV is not allowed to broadcast live programs for the time of the campaign.
 It has already been reported on uncontrolled ballots that were sent out by the national printing company to unknown destinations.
 If Atambayev only gets a tight majority, the South would better accept it. On the contrary, if he wins with about 60% of the votes, the cheating would be so obvious that it would necessarily lead to riots in the South.
 It might also be postponed to December.
 there are more voters in the South than in the North
4 novembre 2011 : Elections présidentielles au Kyrgyzstan : une bouffée d’espoir
L’élection présidentielle kyrgyze tenue ce 30 octobre s’est soldée par un incontestable succès pour la démocratie : pour la première fois en Asie centrale, depuis l’effondrement de l’URSS, un président souhaité par la majorité de son peuple a été légalement élu. Des fraudes pourtant se sont produites et suscitent déjà des remous dans le Sud du pays. Néanmoins, l’écart entre le futur président et ses concurrents est tel qu’une remise en cause en profondeur de l’élection est peu probable.
Lire toute l’analyse ici: