October 8, 2014
Political Parties and Elections ..
Political Parties and Elections

An atmosphere of constructive, lively and enduring discussion, exchange of views, sharp questions and detailed answers characterized the international roundtable conference ‘Political parties and elections:

international practice and the experience of Uzbekistan’ held in Tashkent. It was organized by the Independent Institute for Monitoring the Formation of Civil Society in collaboration with the Central Election Commission (CEC) and other partners.

The panel discussion was attended by academics and experts from France, Germany, USA, Korea, and other countries, officials of foreign and international organizations accredited in Uzbekistan, including the OSCE, UNESCO, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, as well as deputies of the Oliy Majlis, members of CEC, representatives of leading scientific-research and education institutions, political parties and public organizations.

It was highlighted that political parties in Uzbekistan are gradually becoming an essential tool for stirring up social activity of citizens, free expression of citizens’ will and opinion. This becomes especially apparent during elections and the process of formation of public authorities at different levels.

A unique form of association

At the roundtable discussion, universally recognized principles and norms of participation of political parties in elections to representative bodies of government, as well as the experience of other developed democratic countries to improve the legal framework of participation of political parties in the electoral process, have been reviewed.

The participants of the ‘round table’ pointed out that political parties are a unique form of association of persons, one of the objectives of which is the expression of the will of citizens through participation in public affairs and nominations for election. Their distinctive feature compared to other public organizations is the ability to offer voters a comprehensive model of social development and to implement these proposals after coming to power. Political parties are the most widely used tool for citizens’ participation in political life and play an important role in the formation of an informed and active electorate.

The peculiarities of the activities of political parties and their participation in the elections, the role of civil society in the preparation and holding them, the use of modern information and communication technologies in the course of the election campaign, the importance of the media in promoting democracy during campaign events, these and other questions were covered on the example of their countries in the reports by the Professor of Inha University Choi Jun Young, the president of the Institute of Forecasting and security in Europe, Emmanuel Dupuy of France, Head of the Ebert Foundation in Central Asia Peer Teschendorf from Germany, head of a National Democratic Institute office in Uzbekistan Erica Breth from the United States and others.

Improvement of electoral process legislation

As part of the ‘round table’ foreign experts were informed about programs in Uzbekistan of successive transformations to develop electoral legislation and increase the participation of political parties in the electoral process.

The political Parties of Uzbekistan, the speakers noted, have a real opportunity to participate in the formation of the government, to influence domestic and foreign policy of the country, so their role in the relations between state and civil society is especially high.

Initially, it was obvious that without a serious increase of the role of political parties in representing the interests of citizens and public decision-making, it is impossible to establish and develop a truly democratic, civilized and effective political system in our country. And in this respect very important is the role of the electoral legislation of Uzbekistan, which has gone through successive evolutionary path of formation and development.

As a result of liberalization and modernization of all spheres of social life an electoral system that meets the highest democratic standards was created. An effective, relevant and universally recognized norms and principles of the legal framework of the elections were formed. Given that elections are the clearest indicator of the country’s existing democratic constitutional order in the country focus on the main requirement of democracy the free will of the people has been emphasized.

Within the framework of the basic constitutional norms a fundamentally new electoral law, which included the many legal acts in the country, has been consistently developed. The law ‘On elections to the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan’, ‘On elections to the regional, district and city councils of people’s deputies’ have secured the fundamental position of elections to representative bodies solely on multiparty basis.

At the forum it was noted that the changes in the legislation provided constitutional recognition of important issues such as the order of democratic formation of an independent body - the Central Election Commission, the main features and principles of its activities, the election of members of the Legislative Chamber and the Senate of Oliy Majlis.

The Central Election Commission was given the status of an independent and permanent government agency that is governed by the Constitution, laws on elections and other legislative acts. The basic principles of the Commission: independence, legality, collegiality, openness and fairness, have also received constitutional recognition. The Central Election Committee has a great responsibility to organize and conduct national elections in full compliance with the requirements of national legislation and international principles.

Taking into account international experience and own practice the participation of observers from political parties at all stages of the electoral process, from the nomination and registration of candidates and ending with the counting of votes and the announcement of the election results was secured in the laws.

In addition, candidates, to political parties have equal rights to use the media.

The six-month time limit for registration of political parties to participate in elections is reduced to 4 months, and the numbers of required signatures have decreased from 50 to 40 thousand. In this case, the participation of women candidates in the elections of deputies shall be not less than 30%.

In 2008, the concept of an authorized representative of a political party, who is entitled to participate in counting the votes at the polling stations and the validation of the signature lists, was introduced. This allowed for an even greater objectivity and the creation of additional guarantees of transparency of the elections as well as the realization of the rights of political parties in the course of their execution. The number of trustee’s candidates also increased from 5 to 10.

The process of further democratization of elections in our country is effectively developing. Practical manifestation of this was the implementation of the Concept of further deepening democratic reforms and formation of civil society in the country, put forward by our Head of State and approved by the joint session of Parliament in November 2010.

In this Programme Document, along with the priorities of the state and social edifice, an important place is given to ensuring the freedom of suffrage and the development of the electoral legislation in Uzbekistan. Thus, the Basic Law has been subject to several amendments aimed at further improvement of the system of checks and balances, the formation and development of the whole system of parliamentary and public control over the executive branch, which is an important guarantee for the implementation of the constitutional principle of democracy.

In accordance with the concept a new procedure for the nomination of the Prime Minister of the Republic of the political party that won the largest number of seats in the elections to the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis, or more political parties have obtained an equal highest number of seats in the lower house of parliament was introduced.

In the new constitutional framework parties received parliamentary oversight of government activities up to the initialization process for dismissal of the Prime Minister of the Republic, which simultaneously entails the resignation of the government.

Also regulation providing consultation with the party groups in the regional People’s Deputies in approving mayor regions and Tashkent city was introduced.

In general, the country has created the necessary organizational and legal conditions and opportunities for meaningful participation in the elections of political parties. Improvements are being made, which makes the election process simple, accessible, transparent and open. Multiparty and pluralism of opinions has become the driving force behind the development of a democratic society in Uzbekistan. And it underlines the commitment to strengthen the party system of the country even more.

Increasing activity, growing competition

Participants of the “round table” got acquainted with the data monitoring studies of the Independent Institute for Monitoring the Formation of Civil Society, which clearly indicates an increase in inter-party competition at all stages of the elections to representative bodies. Thus, the analysis of the elections to the regional councils of people’s deputies instead of the retired showed increased use of the right to nominate candidates by political parties. The activation of campaigning candidates was observed.

In addition, political parties have taken steps to ensure the presence of observers and delegates at the majority of polling stations. Conducting extensive explanatory work closely with the electorate, the public authorities in the field have stimulated the growth of civil activity of the population, increasing its legal culture and consciousness.

In the previous elections, all four political parties were able to largely use the right to nominate their candidates provided by law. Personnel potential of political parties allowed covering a large part of the constituencies for elections to the parliament. In this case, the political parties managed to withstand the requirements of the law on compulsory nomination of candidates at least 30% of women.

As the main outcome of the 2009 elections, it should be noted that the voting was over 15 million. Citizens, representing 87.8% of the total number of registered voters (in the 2004 parliamentary elections, the voter turnout was 85.1%).

The Independent Institute for Monitoring the Formation of Civil Society developed recommendations for party activists, which will be useful in the upcoming elections.

An indisputable fact, which was identified in the course of monitoring, was the increase in the activity of political parties, increased competition between them, and between them nominated candidates.

Particular attention was paid by the participants to the role of mass media in promoting democracy during the election campaign. The variety of forms and methods of campaigning of political parties in Uzbekistan were presented, while issues of creating equal opportunities for political parties during the election campaign in the media were discussed.

Forum participants came up with recommendations aimed at cementing the role of political parties in the electoral process based on the outcomes of the international panel discussion.

(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)


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