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Kyrgyzstan 2017: Why does Almazbek Atambayev change power balance?

The protracted intrigue in Kyrgyzstan- who will become a candidate for the president from SDPK party- has in fact made even more confusion and added new questions.

We all remember that the name of Sooronbay Jeenbekov as a likely candidate for the post of head of state from the party of power was mentioned in the political circles immediately after he was appointed the Prime Minister.

We must admit that the Social Democrats have managed to create a dense veil of secrecy.

Until May 17, when the SDPK political council decided in favor of Sooronbay Jeenbekov, confident assumptions about other party leaders as the most obvious contenders for the post No. 1 also circulated in the society.

Why Jeenbekov?

That’s why many observers say directly: Sooronbay Jeenbekov — it’s too easy. There were even versions that the name of at least one more candidate from the SDPK would be unexpectedly announced at the forthcoming party congress no later than in a month. And for greater drama, he can claim himself as a self nominated candidate.

In such a way, the party of the president will kill two birds with one stone: a) divert attention of the public and competitors from the real presidential candidate and b) demonstrate such a democratic, competitive and equal atmosphere in the political organization.

But we still have to find out whether it is so or not. And if we get rid ourselves of the «conspiracy theory» and perceive reality as it is, we can draw the following conclusions:

  • No matter what is our attitude to Sooronbay Jeenbekov, this is not the worst that SDPK has today.
  • Announcing the Prime Minister as a candidate, whatever he was, the party must now make every effort for his victory in the election.

On the other hand, we all can not understand the true motives of SDPK decisions. What’s the use of these conventions?

Obviously, the decisions come from Almazbek Atambayev himself, and only he knows what kind of future is being projected now in the interests of preserving his political influence.

Maybe we just do not see the Atambayev’s signal that the control over the presidential post is uninteresting or not very interesting for him. That’s why it is Jeenbekov. It is no wonder that, before the amendments to the Constitution were introduced in 2016, so much was said in favor of changing the balance of powers between the president and the prime minister, after which the head of the Cabinet becomes a stronger figure.

Power scattering

It is appropriate to recall the statement of the incumbent head of state that he would like to remain in the history of Kyrgyzstan as «the last strong president». Do not forget his words said at the Cholpon-Ata press conference last year: «The next president can easily become a dragon in Kyrgyzstan with the acting Constitution. It is necessary to change the Constitution not to get a dragon with 120 heads in the future. If the president is not like me, he will easily change the Constitution and become a dragon. I will try to do something for this year. Whoever is the president, prime minister or speaker, he should not have the power alone.»

Based on these voiced thoughts of Almazbek Atambayev, it is possible to reconstruct the sketch of the planned distribution of power which he now draws.

It turns out that according to the idea of Atambayev, the leaders of the institute of the president, legislative and executive branches should be either equally strong or equally weak. This depends already on your philological perception.

Intrigue persists

Even if the Atambayev’s team loses the presidential election in 2017 (and this is not excluded with Jeenbekov as candidate), there are still umbrellas in the form of the premier and speaker posts for him personally and for the whole SDPK, which, apparently, could be managed by the Social Democrats at least until 2020.

This is confirmed by another interesting statement by the President made at the last meeting of the National Council for Sustainable Development in April. Almazbek Atambayev said that the presidential election in 2017 would be less important than the parliamentary elections in 2020.

Earlier, he also said that after resignation and rest he personally would head the SDPK election campaign.

So, apparently, the post of the president can really be subjected to reassembly for its weakening. It is not yet clear how it will happen from the point of view of the legislation. But, as we know, everything is possible in Kyrgyzstan if desired.

However, one can already make one, but quite relevant conclusion: it is not so important now how Sooronbay Jeenbekov is going to win the elections, as the emphasis is shifted to the person of the future prime minister. It is quite possible that Almazbek Atambayev, by default, will begin to transfer power, gradually and unconsciously, to him, the new head of government.

That is, while everyone is distracted by the presidential race and pre-election battles, we will not notice how actually get a new head of state.

And if the rate at the administrative resource, financial opportunities and control over large media plays and Sooronbay Jeenbekov wins, this pleasant bonus will in general strengthen Almazbek Atambayev as «supra-president.»

But do not forget that reality is much more complicated and involves so many variants in the development of the political situation that today’s predictions in this article can be perceived only as a possible, but not necessarily a mandatory scenario.

Nevertheless, the real politics is not made in the laboratory flask, the more so not all forces in Kyrgyzstan agree to observe the game of Atambayev and his closest associates.