Foreign Policy Blogs

Turkmenistan Parliamentary Election

images.jpgOn Sunday, the a reported 94% of the people of Turkmenistan participated in the nation's 4th Mejlis (parliamentary) elections. Turkmenistan's government run Central Election Commission called the vote a great success and ‘historic.’ The election is supposed to represent a more open and democratic Turkmenistan, as the country's President Berdymukhamedov earlier this year reformed the constitution, creating a little more space for open discussion and a Mejlis with a greater say in the government's decision making. However, the election showcased just as many problems and old fashioned authoritarianism as the nation has become famous for.

Though the Mejlis’ 125 seats were contested by 288 candidates, all of them had to be approved by the state, were almost all members of Berdymukhamedov's Democratic Party, and many voters had no idea who their local candidate was until election day. For the first time in the country's history, foreign observers were allowed to watch the election process. The UN, OSCE, Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and the CIS all sent representatives to the state, a total of 60 people. However, the OSCE did not send a full monitoring team, saying ‘a genuine contest was impossible.’

Back to Turkmen state's ability to pick and choose the candidates, journalist, activist Sazak Durdymuradov attempted to be a candidate, but was denied by the government for ‘unknown reasons.’ Sazak stated that he feared for his family's safety by interviewing with RadioFreeEurope about why he was disallowed from his candidacy. When asked about whether these elections were a positive sign for the new constitutional reforms, Sazak called them ‘all the same games.’

 

Author

Patrick Frost

Patrick Frost recently graduated from New York University's Masters Program in Political Science - International Relations. His MA thesis analyzed the capabilities and objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Central Asia and beyond and explored how these affected U.S. interests and policy.

Areas of Focus:
Eurasia, American Foreign Policy, Ideology, SCO

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