PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION IN CENTRAL ASIA: PROGRESS, PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS

Bakhodyr ERGASHEV


Bakhodyr Ergashev, D.Sc. (Philos.), professor, deputy director of the Institute of Civil Society Studies (Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan)


Anyone wishing to study political modernization should not ignore the recent problems born by the party-building process. The institution of parliamentary opposition and its evolution are probably the most complicated of them for the simple reason that legislatures are a relatively new and fairly progressive phenomenon in the region able to stimulate democratic processes on their own. In addition, the parliamentary parties have enough political weight to promote the best possible laws.

According to the generally accepted definition, the parliamentary opposition is a group of parliamentarians or the parliamentary faction of a party not present in the Cabinet and opposing it on issues of fundamental importance. Social and political thought in Central Asia is paying enough attention to the opposition as the regions political reality. So far, however, the parliamentary opposition as the most complicated part of political opposition has escaped attention.

This article attempts to assess the experience of other countries and analyzes domestic phenomena and the meaning of the changes to reveal their hidden mechanisms and impact on the local political regimes and take a look at the future of parliamentary opposition. I proceed from the fact that this institution has been developing in countries that have never known a multi-party system, professional parliaments, legal opposition, independent press, real freedom of conscience, or independent trade unions, and where non-governmental organizations have been terra incognita.

Prehistory

Late in the 1980s, when the Soviet Union was still alive, it became clear that the country needed an institution of opposition. Mikhail Gorbachev did not exclude the possibility that the CPSU might become an opposition party at some later point. He argued that political methods should be used to convince people to take part in elections of all levels and cast their votes for the communists. If this failed, continued the communist leader, the party should form a constructive opposition, support reasonable measures, and go against the government when the interests of the working people demanded this.

The Interregional Group of Deputies, a prototype of sorts of a legal parliamentary opposition, appeared in 1989; it comprised about 380 deputies of the Congress of the Peoples Deputies of the U.S.S.R. and was headed by Andrei Sakharov, Iuri Afanasiev, Gavriil Popov, Boris Yeltsin, and Victor Palm. They laid the foundation for a parliamentary opposition in the country.

The Central Asian leaders on the whole knew that they needed a civilized opposition at a time when the.


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