Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
Presidential Election was held in the Republic of Uzbekistan on December 4, 2016. According to Chairman Uzbek Central Election Commission Mirza-Ulugbek Abdusalomov no violations were observed at polling stations during the presidential election in Uzbekistan Dec. 4. The official turnout was 87.83 percent, with more than 17.9 million out of some 20 million eligible voters took part in the election.
It showed true democratic spirits of Uzbekistan political parties, people and Central Election Commission. Presidential election was monitored and independently conducted by its Central Election Commission. Once again people became victorious and their votes had been documented and respected. Uzbek Model of Democracy once again showed its strength, stability and sustainability where people voted for their leaders. Preliminary results will be announced on December 5.
9,339 polling stations in the Republic of Karakalpakstan, regions and the Tashkent city, as well as 44 abroad, facilitated voting through Uzbekistan. They provided all the conditions for the electorate to manifest their free will. 37,500 observers from political parties, were also monitored the election.
Among the presidential candidates were the country’s Acting President Shavkat Mirziyoyev from UzLiDeP, Sarvar Otamuratov from Milly Tiklanish Party, Nariman Umarov from Adolat Party, and Hotamzhon Ketmonov from PDPU. The new head of state will be elected for a period of five years as per Uzbek Constitution. During election campaign Mirziyoyev mostly focused on economic issues: private enterprises and foreign investment, pledging to double Uzbekistan’s GDP by 2030.
According to Uzbekistan Central Election Commission nearly 80,000 observers monitored the presidential election in Uzbekistan, including over 500 international representatives from 43 countries and such international organizations like the OSCE ODIHR, CIS Executive Committee, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Presence of more than 500 international election observers and active participation of famous and creditable organizations were of the proof that Uzbekistan Presidential election was conducted and achieved highest international standards of transparency, fairness and freeness. Over a thousand news items, articles and analysis about the elections in Uzbekistan have been published and aired in the foreign media since the start of the election campaign which shows value of its democratic system, political maturity, independence of state organs, vibrancy of NGOs and mass media.
Uzbekistan’s prime minister and interim president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, looked likely to win a presidential election by a landslide and become the second leader of Central Asia’s most populous nation since independence.
Being an independent organ of the Uzbek State, Central Election Commission permitted all the political parties and their presidential candidates to conduct their political campaigns through mass media, with publication and distribution of print, visual, audiovisual and other campaign materials and the last but not the least, meetings with voters.
Moreover, websites of political parties, print editions of the parties, outdoor advertising, electronic monitors, electoral leaflets and other campaigning materials had also been allowed to convince their supporters for winning hearts and souls. Furthermore implementing of “Equal Right of Access” as granted by its Constitution, the National Broadcasting Company’s TV and radio channels O’zbekiston and Yoshlar provided each presidential nominee with 638 free airtime minutes, while 12 local TV and radio channels of the same Company had provided each of the candidates with 206 free minutes, ‘Toshkent’ TV and radio channel granted 286 minutes of airtime. Khalq Suzi, Narodnoe Slovo and Pravda Vostoka newspapers allocated 6 pages of print space, while 30 local newspapers had assigned 55 pages.
For further strengthening of democratic spirits as granted by its Constitution and implemented by Central Election Commission, the candidates were also provided with free print space in Ovozi Tojik and Ovozi Samarkand newspapers, published in Tajik, as well as in the Nurly Zhol newspaper in Kazakh language. It increased all the candidates’ connectivity with the local population and different segments/factions of the society.
Moreover, each candidate was granted 642 outdoor advertising means in the regions. 36 electronic monitors across the nation broadcast campaigning videos of presidential nominees for free, showing them in a single block. Free, fair and equal access to mass media (print, electronic) and outdoor means to all the candidates upheld true spirits of accountability, impartiality and political openness of Uzbekistan political parties and civil society.
As prevalent in Western Democracies Presidential election of Uzbekistan was also contested on certain policies and issues. UzLiDeP relied on entrepreneurs, emerging middle class, business elite, including that in the agricultural sector. The People’s Democratic Party of Uzbekistan capitalized massive social reforms. Adolat SDPU showcased modern social democracy, with industrial workers and wage-workers of the services sector as its main constituency. Milly Tiklanish DPU projected creative and scientific intellectuals. It considered it important to comprehensively support domestic producers, uphold handicrafts and family businesses, as well as tourism as an effective economic instrument for promoting the national culture and history.
Beauty of Uzbek Model of Democracy rests on the continuation of elections. The Article 117 of the Basic Law specifies that the elections are conducted on the basis of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot. The right to vote is granted to the citizens of Uzbekistan who have reached the age of eighteen on the day of the election and older. The universal suffrage is implemented regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, language, religion, social origin, beliefs, individual or social status. Active participation of all the eligible voters’ especially young people showed that Uzbekistan’s model of democracy is genuine, productive, participatory and pro-development.
Since independence many acts and laws have been adopted to directly regulate the electoral processes, including the law ‘On guarantees of electoral rights of citizens’, ‘On the elections of President of the Republic of Uzbekistan’, ‘On elections to the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan’, ‘On the Central Election Commission’, and others. Certain aspects of the organization and conduct of elections are also regulated by specific regulations and instructions of the Central Election Commission. It is now obvious that Uzbekistan has now formed a full code of laws on elections, which clearly upholds rule of law and rule of majority.
The Concept of Intensification of Democratic Reforms and Formation of Civil Society in Uzbekistan, as adopted by the national parliament in November 2010, is seen as an important policy document, also with regard to the further streamlining of the electoral legislation.
Moreover, certain articles of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan were amended within the framework of the Concept in 2014. It defined a system of democratic formation of the Central Election Commission as a permanent constitutional body, the basic principles of its activity strengthened the legal guarantees of independence of the entire system of the electoral bodies that are responsible for the organization of the elections to representative bodies, and established liability for interference with their activities. It was a giant leap in the arena of political system in the country.
Presidential Election was held on December 4, 2016 in Uzbekistan. It achieved highest international standards of free, fair and transparency. It consolidated collective wisdom of its people which they reflected through their free will by votes. It reflected true spirits of democratic Uzbekistan where people use to elect their leaders. Democracy has once again victor and people are real instruments to elect their representatives.