As Kyrgyzstan marked the Day of Parliamentarism on June 4, Kyrgyz MP Dastan Bekeshev said that parliamentary democracy is still developing in Kyrgyzstan. "It is too early to say that the parliamentary governance has been established in Kyrgyzstan, so it is necessary to further strengthen it,” he said at the roundtable dedicated to the development of the parliamentary system in Kyrgyzstan.
Parliamentary development is not a constitutional experiment, Bekeshev believes. "We have a parliamentary-presidential form of governance but not yet fully parliamentary governance," he said.
As a rule, this process is long-term, MP Natalia Nikitenko said. "Institutions for the development of a parliamentary government have been formed and the first steps to strengthen parliamentarism have been done in difficult conditions," she added.
Two convocations of the Jogorku Kenesh (parliament) including the current sixth one have been working under conditions of parliamentarism, and Kyrgyzstan is ahead of other Central Asian countries in terms of democratic process, MP Talant Mamytov said.
Further development of the parliamentary system or a return to the presidential system should by chosen by Kyrgyzstan’s people, he believes. “If we are going to hold a referendum, people should understand clearly what a parliamentary or presidential form of government is," he added.
According to a survey, the vast majority of the population of Kyrgyzstan does not know that they live in a presidential-parliamentary republic.
Elections of the Kyrgyz parliament in October 2010 marked the proclamation of a presidential-parliamentary republic in Kyrgyzstan.
The current, sixth convocation faces difficult tasks to introduce the parliamentary culture, which is not easy in the post-revolutionary country in which populism and political PR prevail. It requires efforts and support from all parties, all branches of government, and civil society.
It is indisputable that the parliamentary system is more open and democratic and allows citizens to participate in the ongoing political processes. However, the Soviet system, and later the post-Soviet presidential system in Kyrgyzstan made people think that only concentrated power could solve problems. It is difficult to get rid of old habits and beliefs, but we have seen the consequences of state power concentrated in the hands of one person, MP Nikitenko said.
“The parliamentary model allows us to realize the potential of public opinion, provide a system of checks and balances, and to give the opposition a chance to defend their opinion within the legal framework,” she added.
Under the presidential government with a rigid vertical of power, the country has a greater chance to make an economic breakthrough. At the same time, it can make large errors and step in minus economically, said Bekeshev. “Under the parliamentary government, people discuss to solve problems, and once again argue, then change their mind. In this process, it is difficult to make an economic breakthrough, and it should be understood. But we can obtain much more — to maintain stability, and then gradually gain economically," he concluded.
According to MPs, the parliamentary system helps to effectively form a new political elite and strengthen the political will of the citizens.
At the same time there are also opponents of the parliamentary system. Expert Cholpon Jakupova believes that the parliamentary system is very convenient for the faction leaders who run all the committees, MPs and the processes taking place in the Parliament.
During the years of parliamentary governance, public confidence in political leaders has been shattered. Meanwhile, the experience of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan shows that successful modernization, well-being growth and high-quality state-building can be achieved with a strong presidential power, she added.
Of the 120 members of the Kyrgyz parliament, some 30 to 40 sometimes attend parliamentary sessions while the others are often busy with their own business. Some MPs do business abroad, so oligarchs in the Parliament do not want to play according to the rules they themselves set.
Experts at the roundtable outlined a range of problems in Kyrgyzstan’s parliamentarism including the Constitution adopted in 2010, which is not working in full because the country lacks the rule of law and strong public democratic institutions.
In spite of serious contradictions, the institute of parliamentarism should be developed as it is an essential element of modern political landscape.
The process of nation-building involves maintaining the balance of the executive power and Parliament which should develop its culture which means the ability to negotiate and compromise, while the confrontation between the Parliament and the executive power leads to paralysis of the entire state machine.