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Freedom House: Kyrgyzstan’s democracy score deteriorates

The democracy score of Kyrgyzstan continues to deteriorate and reached 6.07 points as a result of 2017 (6 points — in 2016, 5.89 points — in 2015). The republic was included in the category of countries with «consolidated authoritarian regime.» The annual report of the human rights organization Freedom House «Nations in Transit 2018. Confronting Illiberalism» says.

Each of 29 states in the report is assessed according to seven-point scale. The score, equal to one, corresponds to the highest indicator of democratic progress, and seven — is the lowest one.

The level of democracy is assessed according to seven indicators: national democratic governance, electoral process, civil society, independent media, local democratic governance, judicial framework and independence, corruption.

This year, the authors of the report noted a decline in the electoral process rating from 5.50 to 5.75 due to the heavy use of administrative resources in favor of the outgoing president’s designated successor, the imprisonment and persecution of the president’s political opponents before the election, and the opening of criminal investigations against the losing candidate after the election.

Independent media rating declined from 6.00 to 6.25 due to onerous fines levied against media that reported critically on the president, and the shuttering of an opposition-affiliated TV station.

Freedom House

«The year 2017 was a controversial one for the prospect of democracy in Kyrgyzstan. On the one hand, the country witnessed a peaceful transfer of power, with former prime minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov elected as Kyrgyzstan’s fifth president. The elections were contested and its outcome remained, at least until several weeks before voting day, unpredictable. On the other hand, the heavy use of state resources to stifle political competition and silence criticism cast major doubt on the readiness of political elites to allow elections to be genuinely free and fair,» authors of the report say.

The peaceful transition of power through elections could not disguise serious problems in the quality of political competition, and the presence of multiple parties in the parliament did not result in political pluralism.

Freedom House

Despite holding about 30 percent of the parliament, the president’s Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) has taken control of key political processes, evidenced by its use of state administrative powers during the presidential elections.

According to the organization, Kyrgyzstan’s political situation is likely to be calmer in 2018. Both the government and the parliament are under the comfortable control of the SDPK. Any political tensions will thus likely arise from internal rivalry within the party’s ranks.

Former president Atambayev is expected to formalize his leadership in the SDPK and work towards expanding the party’s political influence. Pushing for the parliament’s dissolution may become one of his points of leverage.

The authorities may step back from their heavy-handed treatment of the opposition and media, but the return to vibrant political pluralism and competition is unlikely.

Freedom House