The preliminary results from the November 28 parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan show good early results for pro-government parties amid a low-voter turnout in the country of some 6 million people and charges by the opposition of vote-count fraud.
The elections will determine who gets the 90 seats in the unicameral parliament, down from 120 in the previous legislature after a nationwide referendum approved changes to the constitution that gave the president and his government far greater powers.
Here are five takeaways from the elections.
Big Win For Pro-Government Parties
The parties with the three most votes in the elections are all pro-government and are projected to get at least 36 of the 54 party-list seats, as Ata-Jurt (Fatherland) Kyrgyzstan (16.6 percent), Ishenim (Trust) (13.3 percent), and the Yntymak (Harmony) party (10.59 percent) swept the first three spots.
A religious-oriented party that is also seen as mainly pro-government, Yyman Nuru (Ray of Faith) (5.2 percent), was the sixth and final party to gain entry in parliament.
With additional pro-government candidates winning in the single-mandate districts, the government of President Sadyr Japarov should have solid parliamentary support with pro-government parties holding a commanding majority of the seats.
Disappointment, Anger For The Opposition
With so many pro-government parties doing well, it was a very poor showing for the opposition parties, with Butun (United) Kyrgyzstan (6.6 percent) garnering the most votes.
The new Alliance party, which is considered mainly progressive with a lot of younger candidates, will also be positioned with the opposition on many issues. It finished in fourth place with 8.08 percent of the vote.
Ata-Meken (also meaning Fatherland), which is led by longtime opposition leader Omurbek Tekebaev, finished with just 3.42 percent, a poor showing the party leader blamed on voter fraud.
"We were winning at least 8-10 percent, according to our own surveys," said Tekebaev. "On the [Central Election Commission's] first electronic screenshot [that was made public], our party had some 71,000 votes. After the screen was turned off and reloaded again, we [only] had some 41,000 votes. It means votes were stolen from our popular politicians Ali Toktakunov, Tilek Toktogaziev, Natalia Nikitenko, and Klara Sooronkulova."
Election Commission Blackout, Large Invalid Vote Total Leads To Fraud Charges
Several opposition parties, including Ata-Meken, Azattyk (Liberty), the Social Democrats, and Uluttar Birimdigi held a press conference in Bishkek after the preliminary vote totals were announced saying they will not recognize the results, charging the Central Election Commission changed vote totals during the 40-minute blackout of its electronic tabulation.
The leader of the Uluttar Birimdigi (One Nation), Nurlan Adaev, said his party had 47,074 votes before the screen went blank and when it came back on it had lost some 17,000 votes.
The parties also said the huge number of invalid ballots -- some 122,000 or nearly 10 percent of all those cast -- leads them to believe that votes were stolen from them. The opposition parties are demanding the elections be annulled and that a date for new elections be announced.
There were also complaints about violations during election day with some claiming that political parties or individual candidates were paying people to go onto minibuses that took them to and from the polling stations in exchange for their vote.
Other voters were seen photographing their completed ballots before dropping them into ballot boxes.
In the past, parties or candidates accused of bribing people to vote for them were reportedly asking voters to take a picture of their ballots after they were filled in as proof that they had cast their vote for the people offering money.
Another complaint stemmed from some of the e-ballot boxes malfunctioning and voters then being asked to leave their completed ballots on tables until the problem was fixed. In some instances, poll workers said they would deposit the ballots themselves.
Despite those voting process complaints, there did appear to be far fewer violations during election campaigning and on election day than has been the case in previous elections.
These parliamentary elections saw the lowest voter turnout of any of the elections previously conducted in Kyrgyzstan with only a reported 32.25 percent of the electorate casting ballots. It is a major decrease from the turnout for the failed parliamentary elections held in October 2020, which was 58.89 percent.
These were the fourth nationwide elections in less than 14 months in Kyrgyzstan and voter turnout has gone down with each new poll.
New System Causes Some Confusion
This was the first time Kyrgyzstan conducted parliamentary elections using a split system.
There are a reduced number of seats available in parliament after a national referendum in April approved a new constitution with a stronger executive branch of government. Of the 90 seats, 54 were chosen from party lists and 36 from voting in single-mandate districts.
Some voters -- confused by the party-list ballot that required a voter to select one of 21 parties and also to choose one of 54 candidates from that party -- were reported to be asking poll workers for assistance. Some cited this is a violation of voter privacy.