Kyrgyzstan’s Poison Parliament

Issue Date January 2022
Volume 33
Issue 1
Page Numbers 55–69
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Kyrgyzstan’s decade-long experiment with parliamentary-style government ended in violence in October 2020, leading to the return of superpresidential rule. While many hoped that the parliamentary-style government introduced in 2010 would lead to a functioning electoral democracy, it only hollowed formal institutions, weakened governance further, and widened the gulf between the state and the people. The presidency remained the focal point of the system, while the parliament and its many coalition governments were only a weak counterweight . Political parties failed to serve as channels between the citizens and policy outcomes. Instead, they functioned as conduits of particularistic business interests into parliament, which served as a marketplace for transacting corrupt deals. Overall, Kyrgyzstan’s parliamentary decade serves as a reminder of the challenge of democratization in a context of a severe governance deficit.

About the Author

Johan Engvall is deputy research director at the Swedish Defence Research Agency and senior nonresident fellow with the Central Asia–Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center. He is the author of The State as Investment Market: Kyrgyzstan in Comparative Perspective (2016).

View all work by Johan Engvall