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Early Presidential Election in Kyrgyzstan. What Do We Know About It?

Kyrgyzstan is holding early presidential election on January 10, 2021. 63 persons were going to run for president. However, not everyone made it to the pre-election race.

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As this is early election, all terms are being reduced by one third. The relevant campaign is starting on December 15.

The forthcoming election is the fifth one in the history of sovereign Kyrgyzstan.

Why is Kyrgyzstan holding early presidential election?

On October 15, 2020, President Sooronbai Zheenbekov resigned office early. The reason was the results of the parliamentary election held on October 4. The next day, discontented people went out to protests, and on the night of October 5 to 6, disorders began. As a result, the protesters seized the building of the White House. Zheenbekov was trying to retain the authority for nine days, but left office afterwards.

According to article 61 of the existing Constitution, the president is elected for 6 years and for one presidential term. Sooronbai Zheenbekov was elected the head of Kyrgyz Republic in 2017, i.e. he was in office until the middle of his term.

The early presidential election will be held within three months after the termination of authorities of the head of state. Therefore, election was appointed for January 10, 2021.

Who can run for president?

According to article 61 of the Constitution of Kyrgyzstan, the president may be any citizen of the country, not younger than 35 and not older than 70 years old, who can speak the state language, and has been residing in the republic at least for 15 years in total.

Besides, a candidate for president may not hold any state, political or municipal office, from the date of filing the declaration. Also, citizens with former convictions may not run for president.

What is the term of presidency?

Six years, and only one term, according to art. 61 of the existing Constitution. 

However, all deputies of the parliament initiated amendments to the main law, where one of the changes are the election of president for two terms 5 years each.

What are the novelties in the election law?

After the parliamentary election held on October 4, 2020, deputies have introduced a range of amendments to the law. In particular, the decision was made about the decrease of the election deposit from 5 million to 1 million som, and the option to change the election address in form No. 2 was cancelled. Also, the threshold of representation was reduced for parliamentary election from 7 to 3 per cent.

What is form No. 2 and why was it cancelled?

Form No. 2 is the application for the change of the election address, if you cannot vote at the place of your residence registration, and want to vote at another polling station. 

Many cases of vote buying were reported during the recent parliamentary election. The candidates of parties bought votes of citizens who had to vote at the needed polling station under form No. 2 in order to win the maximum number of votes at their station. It provoked much indignation in the society. As a result, deputies passed the law that allows citizens to vote at the place of residence registration only.

The exclusion applies only to the Kyrgyzstanis who are to vote abroad.

Who can vote at the elections?

Citizens of Kyrgyzstan who are older than 18 years old and who have provided their biometric data may vote at the presidential elections.

One can vote only upon presentation of a regular passport or ID card and only at the place of residence registration. 

How will presidential election be held abroad?

The citizens of Kyrgyzstan abroad may vote only at diplomatic missions of their countries or consular services.

The citizens who have been registered with the consular agency in advance may vote. The requirements to them remain the same, i.e. they have to provide biometric data and need to have the regular passport or ID card (for certain countries).

Why to vote?

One of the basic rights of the citizens of Kyrgyzstan is the right to vote. However, not all prefer to use it. For example, the voter turnout at the presidential election in 2017 was only 55.9 per cent.

Many Kyrgyzstanis are inactive in regard to elections and think their vote won’t make a difference. In fact, the more people vote, the less chances for falsification or use of administrative resource will be available.

Besides, it’s a mistake to think that one’s vote won’t make a difference. Maybe, the country has had three revolutions because almost half of voters do not vote. 

What is a secrecy of vote?

It is the ballot voting system in Kyrgyzstan. Every voter receives a ballot, goes to the voting booth, checks the necessary candidate, and inserts the ballot into the automatic voting machine.

No one can know who you voted for. You have the right to keep silent about it.

The violation of the secrecy of vote entails liability – up to 360 hours of compulsory community service, up to 2.5 years of community work or a fine from 180 to 220 thousand som (2,123-2,595 dollars).

They offered to buy my vote. Should I agree?

Vote buying is a criminal offence in Kyrgyzstan and is punishable up to 260 thousand som (3,066 dollars) and in some cases by imprisonment up to 2.5 years.

Elections are one of few tools that citizens may use to influence the country’s future. The person elected by the voters now will be ruling the country for the next five years. 

But for the majority of people, it is normal to get money for their vote or to vote for a candidate who repaired the street at his/her expense. Unfortunately, this method is used by almost all participants of the election process. After voters get money from the campaign activists, they are being instructed on who to vote for and how to vote.

Then, the citizens are being threatened, after they get money, that if they vote for another candidate, it will become known (which is not true, in fact).

At the recent election to the Zhogorku Kenesh, vote buying was the most widespread. It was used by the parties as the main tool for winning votes.

What is 61?

By curious coincidence, all five presidents of Kyrgyzstan left their offices when they were 61 years old.

First president Askar Akaev was born on November 10, 1944. He was removed from office on March 24, 2005.

President Kurmanbek Bakiev was born on August 1, 1949. He was removed from office on April 7, 2010.

The president of the interim period Roza Otunbaeva was born on August 23, 1950. She was the president from 2010 to 2011.

President Almazbek Atambaev was born on September 17, 1956. He left office of the head of state in 2017 after he had transferred the reins of power to Sooronbai Zheenbekov.

President Sooronbai Zheenbekov was born on November 16, 1958. He left the presidential office early on October 15, 2020. He was a month away from turning 62 years old. 

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