FRAGMENTATION OF THE POLITICAL PARTY SYSTEM IN KYRGYZSTAN

Seyit Ali AVCU


Seyit Ali Avcu, Ph.D., University of Virginia, Assistant Professor, Department of International Relations, Director of Central Asian Research Center, Kyrgyzstan-Turkey Manas University (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan)


ABSTRACT

A political party system is the nature and relations of the political parties in a given political system. There are four main variables in the classification of party systems: the extent to which parties penetrate society, the ideologies of the parties, the stance of the parties toward the legitimacy of the regime, and the number of parties in the system. The number of parties determines the level of fragmentation of the party system. Kyrgyzstan emerged as an independent country after the collapse of the Soviet Union. After two revolutions, which resulted in the ousting of the presidents, Kyrgyzstan officially changed its political system by announcing the introduction of parliamentary democracy and held its first elections after the regime change in October 2010. Five parties were able to pass the 5% national threshold to gain seats in the parliament. However, no single party gained enough of a majority to form the government on its own. Therefore, they formed coalitions, the latest of which includes three partiesthe SDPK, Ar-Namys, and Ata-Mekenwhile the other two remained in the opposition: Respublika and Ata-Jurt. I estimated the effective number of parties by votes and seats and the least squares index for the 2010 parliamentary elections using Michael Gallaghers index, which utilizes the Laakso-Taagepera formula. The effective number of parties index in Kyrgyzstan in terms of seat distribution in the Jogorku Kenesh was 4.90 for the 2010 parliamentary elections. However, the effective number of parties index in terms of votes received by the parties is much higher: 9.86. On the other hand, the least squares index, which measures the disproportionality of the election results, is 13.75, which indicates the existence of many small parties with no seats. The 5% national threshold played a role in this disproportionality. The thesis of this article is that Kyrgyzstans political party system is highly fragmented, and both institutional factors, such as constitutional and political party laws and the electoral system, and structural factors, such as social and political cleavages, play a role in this fragmentation.

Keywords: political parties, social cleavages, fragmentation, polarization, Kyrgyzstan.

Introduction

Political parties are fundamental to modern politics; they are essential not only for democracies, but also for most authoritarian countries through which power is exercised. However, political parties are


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