Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
Campaign Restrictions Made Tajik Election Outcome "Inevitable"
The repeat victory won by Tajikistan’s ruling party and the total defeat of the Islamic and Communist parties were the result of a campaign in which all the odds were against the opposition.
In the March 1 ballot for the lower house of parliament, the People’s Democratic Party of President Imomali Rahmon won with over 65 per cent of the vote. The three other parties that passed the five per cent threshold to win seats were pro-government, as welI.
The Islamic Rebirth Party (IRP) and the Communist Party, which won two seats each in the 2010 election, had failed to win any seats this time, according to poll officials.
Commentators say that in the months leading up to the vote, the IRP was targeted by a campaign of harassment and underhand tactics designed to discredit it. The Communists, meanwhile, seem to have run out of fresh ideas.
An OSCE monitoring team found major flaws in the election, which it said was “not administered in an impartial manner”, with “multiple voting and ballot-box stuffing”.
But the outcome was largely shaped well before election day. The OSCE noted that “imbalanced coverage by the state media, negative reporting on the opposition Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan, as well as the absence of genuine political debate considerably limited the possibility for voters to make an informed choice”.
Across Tajikistan, a political party’s ability to campaign very much depended on the will of local government officials.
In the village jamoat [commune], which brings together several villages, a great deal depends on the person in charge,” Ravshan Abdullaev, head of the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia-Tajikistan, said. “If he wants to allow opposition leaders to have meetings the the electorate, he will do so. If he isn’t inclined to, then he won’t. The part of power [ People’s Democratic Party] had a special advantage here, of course, since virtually all heads of communes are members of it.”
Galim Faskhutdinov is an IWPR contributor in Tajikistan.
This audio programme went out in Russian and Tajik on national radio stations in Tajikistan. It was produced under two IWPR projects: Empowering Media and Civil Society Activists to Support Democratic Reforms in Tajikistan, funded by the European Union, and Strengthening Capacities, Bridging Divides in Central Asia, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Norwegian foreign ministry.
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