Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambayev has said he believes the country should switch from its current mixed political system to a fully parliamentary one. The move would have clear benefits for his Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) as he prepares to leave office.
Atambayev made his remarks on November 6 during his first appearance at the new-look parliament, where SDPK are now the dominant partner in a four-party coalition government following the October 4 elections.
Proposals to amend the constitution during the last term of parliament were dashed, but Atambayev argues another attempt is in order.
“I agreed with [the idea] to introduce changes to the constitution. But I asked that the next parliament consider that question without hurrying,” he said. “Five years ago we chose a parliamentary form of government, but really we do not have this. We have one foot in parliamentary government, another in presidential. We should completely switch to a parliamentary system.”
Atambayev’s preference for a parliamentary system can be seen as a virtual confirmation that he wishes to step down in two years time and ensure the dominant position enjoyed by his party is not compromised by a new president eager to get their own way.
That much became evident as he openly mused on hypothetical discussions within the country’s business class should Kyrgyzstan once more become an investor’s nightmare under a president with unchecked powers.
“Who knows what will come next. Imagine suddenly a new president comes in 2017. And imagine if suddenly this new president will be like [first president Askar] Akayev or [second president Kurmanbek] Bakiyev? Or [former president’s Bakiyev’s son] Maxim Bakiyev? And maybe suddenly the carving up of property begins again?” he said.
Given that the last constitution was adopted by referendum in 2010, a second referendum — triggered by a vote in parliament — would likely be the only mechanism to ensure the suggested changes.
Such a referendum could mean anything from removing presidential powers in relation to appointments and parliamentary legislation to — as suggested on Twitter by one seasoned commentator — having parliament elect a president.
As of now, there is no strong sign that the future president could emerge from the ranks of SDPK, while a number of politicians fully independent of Atambayev, such as relatively young and popular former Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov, who is currently in opposition, will be eyeing the presidential vote in 2017.
So no hurry on that constitutional change at all. As long as it happens in the next two years that is.