Assel Tutumlu (Near East University)
Send message to Convenor
- Room 113
- Friday 11 October, 14:00-15:45 (UTC+0)
Author:Anthony Bowyer (International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES))
Paper long abstract:
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan pledged major changes in the relationship between the Government of Uzbekistan and its citizens following his election to replace Islam Karimov in December 2016. The 2017-2021 Development Strategy outlines many areas of reform, though the first of five priorities is listed as "improving the system of state and public construction" and outlines the state plan to, among other ambitious political reforms, strengthen the role of parliament and political parties, develop the country's political life, reform public administration through decentralization, increase the role of media and improve communication with ordinary citizens. There is also an emphasis on enhancing the socio-political activity of women. With 2019 looming as an important year for Uzbekistan politically, the president made only passing mention of the parliamentary elections during extended new year's remarks, and offered no updates on the state of Uzbekistan's democratic reforms. Uzbekistan is nearly halfway through Mirziyoyev's groundbreaking "Strategy," and though there have been notable achievements in reforming regional government, making local leaders accountable, using social media to improve direct communication with citizens and attacking corruption, progress on the national political front appears to have stalled. At present there are still only four major political parties registered (all pro-government) and which have representation in the Oliy Majlis, with a fifth, the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan, re-registering as a political party and preparing to compete for seats in December after its 15-seat quota was stripped by Mirziyoyev. No new political parties have been registered, or previous parties re-registered, suggesting that political competition will be confined to a few, long-standing parties that supported Karimov and have now pivoted to support his successor, Mirziyoyev. While it is true that building political parties takes time, solid ideas and finances, there are few signs that the political opposition, including the exiled Sunshine Coalition or former parties Erk and Birlik will be allowed to (re-) constitute and compete in the December elections. At the same time, the government is spending millions of so'ms to provide biometric voter identification cards for all voters and update the national voter registry, a formidable project that would normally take years but which the government is attempting to conduct in less than two. This paper will examine the incongruencies in the Uzbek political landscape and what can be anticipated for the parliamentary elections and beyond as the uncertain political reforms under the Strategy hit the halfway mark.
Author:Sarah Hummel (Harvard University)
Paper long abstract:
Do Kyrgyz legislators act as democratic representatives of their constituents, or are they still playing by more authoritarian rules of the game? In this paper, I distinguish between "democratic" and "authoritarian" representation. Under democratic representation, deputies respond to the strong electoral connection by voting to advance the interests of their constituents, especially as elections draw near. Under authoritarian representation, deputies engage in more limited contestation that provides information to government leaders about constituent interests, but does not directly challenge the regime.
Using data on roll-call votes (2016-2018), I identify which type of representation best explains the behavior of Jogorku Kenesh deputies. First, I argue deputies engaging in authoritarian representation concentrate their dissent in non-strategic issue areas and on opposition-initiated policies. Furthermore, dissent always declines over the course of the legislative process, regardless of whether substantial amendments are made. Second, I argue that deputies engaging in democratic representation will dissent on any policy that harms their constituents, particularly as elections approach. In this case, dissent only declines over the course of the legislative process if substantial changes are made to the legislation's text. In general, I find support for the authoritarian representation hypotheses, although certain parties act more democratically than others.
These findings have implications for how we view legislatures in transitional contexts, suggesting that we should not overestimate their effectiveness at promoting democracy. They also demonstrate that transitioning between authoritarian and democratic practices is an uneven process.
Author:Tomohiko Uyama (Hokkaido University)
Paper long abstract:
Although trajectories of the Central Asian states have been substantially diverse since their independence, the overall tendency is that authoritarian political regimes have been consolidated domestically, while Russia and China have (re)strengthened their influence in this region. At first glance, it may seem that the Central Asian states' foreign policy orientation corresponds to the domestic one: they have entered a league of authoritarian nations, while the West has been unsuccessful in promoting democracy due to its lack of strong linkage and leverage in Central Asia. However, there are a number of indications that political regime and foreign relations do not always correlate. Authoritarian leaders have not always been pro-Russian and anti-Western, while relatively democratic Kyrgyzstan has been maintaining close relations with Russia and China, occasionally demonstrating anti-Western attitudes, especially after the "democratic" revolution of 2010. Based on extensive analysis of documents and interviews, I argue that there are two particularly important aspects of the relationship between domestic political regime and international politics in Central Asia. First, as the authority of Central Asian political leaders ultimately depends on the overwhelming support of the people, their policy selectively reflects popular nationalism. They sometimes make use of anti-Westernism, but they reject anti-Chinese nationalism because of the importance of China as an economic partner. Second, in earlier years there were indeed tensions with the West over problems of democracy and human rights, and non-Western countries could play the role of "black knights," but in recent years democracy and human rights have become less salient in the international political agenda in Central Asia. Through the analysis of these phenomena, we can get insights into the elements of national populism in today's authoritarianism, as well as the decreasing relevance of democracy promotion in international politics.
Author:Jennifer Murtazashvili (University of Pittsburgh)
Paper long abstract:
Throughout much of the developing world, local government officials often use tools of social
extraction to compel citizens to provide public goods, services, and other collective goods (Lust
and Rakner 2018). In some cases, such efforts are voluntary and deeply embedded in local social
norms that encourage such cooperation. In other cases, such extraction is coerced. How do
efforts to engage in social extraction affect individual attitudes towards local government
authorities and the state in general? How do such efforts affect the quality of public goods
provided? This paper explores these questions in the context of rapidly reforming Uzbekistan
where quasi-customary local government officials routinely call upon citizens for collective
labor for the provision of some public goods. The process of social extraction is based on local
social norms that encourage voluntary provision (referred to locally as hashar). This paper will
seek to answer these questions by examining a unique, nested public opinion survey in
post-Karimov Uzbekistan. The survey includes a sample of quasi-customary officials (mahalla
leaders) along with a representative sample of individuals in their communities.