In a surprise result which underscores what remains an extremely divided electorate in Kyrgyzstan, the parliamentary vote has led to the victory of the nationalist Fatherland Party (Ata-Jurt) and a very unclear road to a coalition government.
The vote was praised as the “fairest election ever” for a region where the norm is vote rigging and intimidation but seems poised to put the kibosh on the April uprising against Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s government and has given the largest plurality to a bloc whose leader openly calls for his return.
Indeed the public calls from Kamchibek Tashiyev, the Fatherland Party’s leader, for Bakiyev’s return led to attacks on their headquarters just days before the vote, and calls from members of the current “caretaker” government to ban them outright.
The Kyrgyz parliamentary system, a relatively new creation, has some novel consequences in a nation where 29 parties contested the vote and the Fatherland Party, despite getting more votes than anyone else, only got 8.88%. Still the partitioning of the seats meant that less than 9% of the vote was still enough to get them 23% of the seats in parliament, 28 out of 120. Getting the extra seats needed for a majority government will require an alliance with any two of the four other parties to secure seats.
Which doesn’t look to be an easy task, and could lead to another Iraq-style stalemate where the various blocs are constantly playing off one another. It is expected that if a government did emerge they would be a comparatively weak one, and it might lead to another new election (or, given Kyrgyzstan’s recent history, another series of violent revolts and counterrevolts).
A Fatherland dominated government might bode ill for the Obama Administration’s designs on keeping a military base in Kyrgyzstan, as the party has spoken out against extending the US lease on the base past 2011.