Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Battling for Votes in Kyrgyzstan

With much to play for, parties have been going the extra mile to secure votes.
By IWPR Central Asia
  • Kyrgyz women dressed up for a Social Democratic Party event. (Photo: Social Democrats’ press office)
    Kyrgyz women dressed up for a Social Democratic Party event. (Photo: Social Democrats’ press office)
  • Omurbek Babanov (left) and Kamchybek Tashiev wearing traditional Kyrgyz hats campaigning for Respublika Ata Jurt, a merger between their respective parties. (Photo: Respublika Ata Jurt office)
    Omurbek Babanov (left) and Kamchybek Tashiev wearing traditional Kyrgyz hats campaigning for Respublika Ata Jurt, a merger between their respective parties. (Photo: Respublika Ata Jurt office)
  • Omurbek Babanov addressing a stadium crowd, alongside Kamchybek Tashiev. They are joint leaders of the Respublika Ata Jurt party. (Photo: Respublika Ata Jurt office)
    Omurbek Babanov addressing a stadium crowd, alongside Kamchybek Tashiev. They are joint leaders of the Respublika Ata Jurt party. (Photo: Respublika Ata Jurt office)
  • President Almazbek Atambaev meets healthcare workers. His high profile will undoubtedly help the Social Democratic Party which he heads. (Photo: president’s press office)
    President Almazbek Atambaev meets healthcare workers. His high profile will undoubtedly help the Social Democratic Party which he heads. (Photo: president’s press office)
  • Adakhan Madumarov, leader of Butun Kyrgyzstan Emgek, another merger designed to add northern voters to his southern constituency. (Photo: Butun Kyrgyzstan Emgek website)
    Adakhan Madumarov, leader of Butun Kyrgyzstan Emgek, another merger designed to add northern voters to his southern constituency. (Photo: Butun Kyrgyzstan Emgek website)
  • This poster shows Felix Kulov (right) of Ar Namys, one of the major parties in Kyrgyzstan. (Photo: IWPR)
    This poster shows Felix Kulov (right) of Ar Namys, one of the major parties in Kyrgyzstan. (Photo: IWPR)
  • Political banners at a bazaar. (Photo: IWPR)
    Political banners at a bazaar. (Photo: IWPR)
  • Electioneering has reached even remote parts of Kyrgyzstan. This is a placard for the Azattyk party, which seeks to appeal to working people. (Photo: IWPR)
    Electioneering has reached even remote parts of Kyrgyzstan. This is a placard for the Azattyk party, which seeks to appeal to working people. (Photo: IWPR)
  • Political parties are often accused of ignoring young people. Here are TV presenter Janarbek Akaev (left) and young businessman Ermek Abakirov (centre). (Photo: Social Democrats’ press office)
    Political parties are often accused of ignoring young people. Here are TV presenter Janarbek Akaev (left) and young businessman Ermek Abakirov (centre). (Photo: Social Democrats’ press office)
  • Campaign methods have grown more sophisticated, and parties compete for the best advertising spots. This picture is from the outskirts of Bishkek. (Photo: IWPR/Ilya Karimjanov)
    Campaign methods have grown more sophisticated, and parties compete for the best advertising spots. This picture is from the outskirts of Bishkek. (Photo: IWPR/Ilya Karimjanov)
  • Laying out stones on hillsides is a common and cheap form of advertisement. This one is simply the initials of the Social Democratic Party and its position at number 7 on the ballot sheet. (Photo: IWPR)
    Laying out stones on hillsides is a common and cheap form of advertisement. This one is simply the initials of the Social Democratic Party and its position at number 7 on the ballot sheet. (Photo: IWPR)
  • Top dancer Atay Omurzakov with his team at a party campaign event. Hiring popular performers is a sure-fire way of attracting an audience. (Photo: Social Democrats’ press office)
    Top dancer Atay Omurzakov with his team at a party campaign event. Hiring popular performers is a sure-fire way of attracting an audience. (Photo: Social Democrats’ press office)
  • Ata Meken slogan in Osh stresses Kyrgyz-Uzbek harmony. Memories of the 2010 ethnic clashes are still fresh here. (Photo: IWPR)
    Ata Meken slogan in Osh stresses Kyrgyz-Uzbek harmony. Memories of the 2010 ethnic clashes are still fresh here. (Photo: IWPR)
  • The largest Kyrgyz diaspora in the Western world is in Chicago. Here, students hold up a banner for Bir Bol, a party set up two years ago. (Photo: Bir Bol party website)
    The largest Kyrgyz diaspora in the Western world is in Chicago. Here, students hold up a banner for Bir Bol, a party set up two years ago. (Photo: Bir Bol party website)
  • Campaign posters cover some of the houses in this rural settlement. (Photo: IWPR)
    Campaign posters cover some of the houses in this rural settlement. (Photo: IWPR)

On Sunday October 4, voters go to the polls in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia’s only democracy.

This is the second  legislative election  since the revised constitution of 2010 gave the Jogorku Kenesh (National Assembly) greater powers. Fourteen parties are standing, each presenting lists of candidates who will be awarded seats under a proportional representation system.

Of the 14 parties fielding candidates, the main contest is among those represented in the current legislature – the Social Democrats, Ata Meken, Ar Namys, Ata Jurt and Respublika (the latter two have now merged). In the current chamber, no party has a clear majority, and the Social Democrats have been governing in coalition with Ar Namys and Ata Meken.

Ahead of the upcoming party, new alliances have grown up, in some cases between formerly bitter rivals, and individual politicians have defected to other parties. (See our story Kyrgyz Parties in Flux Ahead of Election.)

With no dominant force, there is a lot to play for, and the parties have been campaigning vigorously to drum up support from an often disillusioned and indifferent electorate. These pictures give a flavour of the campaigning.