The process of elections to the Jogorku Kenesh is in full swing, approaching the active phase - campaigning. Political parties conducted their congresses, nominated the candidates and submitted their documents to the Central Election Commission for the registration. After reviewing of the documents, the documents of 16 political parties were accepted and the documents of one party were returned. Until September 4, the Central Election Commission will check whether the nominated candidates meet the requirements of the law and will register the eligible ones.
The media play a critical role in the electoral process by enabling voters to make an informed choice in accordance with international standards and the best practices. One of the important aspects is the provision of information on campaign financing so that voters can comprehensively assess a political party and make their choices on the basis of objective information. Disclosure of campaign financing information is an important mechanism of public accountability which serves the basis for the integrity of the electoral process. Providing the public with access to the information on money flows in politics strengthens oversight and accountability in the governmental decision - making. The absence of information on how much money circulates in the elections and around them, where resources do come from and how they are spent makes it difficult for the voters to make informed choices.
On August 21, the Central Election Commission in cooperation with the “Civic Platform” Public Foundation and with the assistance from the United Nations Development Program, implemented with the support of the governments of Germany, Switzerland and Japan, held a public dialogue with the media representatives regarding the integrity of the electoral process and transparency of campaign financing. During the dialogue the participants discussed the role of media in the electoral process and the monitoring of campaign financing, the international standards of election coverage and the code of conduct for media during elections, typical violations during elections, international standards and national legislation in the field of campaign financing.
The Kyrgyz migrants play an important role in the life of the country, but unfortunately the introduction of biometric voter identification made many of them unable to fully exercise their right to vote as they face objective difficulties in providing their biometric data to the state. The Central Election Commission continues to work with the Kyrgyz citizens living abroad. As before, on Wednesdays weekly online meetings of migrants with the Chairperson of the Central Election Commission are arranged and a hotline is actively working, enabling the migrants from Russia and Kazakhstan to make free calls and get qualified assistance on the issues of biometric data submission and consular registration, which are the conditions of inclusion in the voter list abroad.
At the same time, with the support of the Government of Germany within the framework of the “ Election Support Program in the Kyrgyz Republic” implemented by UNDP in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration, the Central Election Commission jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Registration Service organized “mobile groups” for biometric and consular registration in the countries where the Kyrgyz migrants live. The departure of the mobile groups was scheduled as early as May, but due to the situation with the coronavirus, closure of borders and suspension of air travel, flights were postponed. As the epidemiological situation started to improve, the mobile group worked in Turkey from August 22 to 28, particularly in Bursa, Izmir, Bodrum, Antalya, Ankara and Istanbul. In the nearest future the resumption of regular flights with Russia is expected and the mobile teams will also go to the Russian cities. Mobile groups became an important achievement of the current election campaign, as they expanded the opportunities for the citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic living abroad to implement their right to vote.
The sixth week before the elections was marked with summing up the results of the competition of media products in the framework of the Youth Laboratory created by the Central Election Commission and UNDP with the support of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany. The Youth Laboratory began with a competition between ideas from young people aged 18 to 35 years on how to combat bribery of voters, motivate participation in elections and protect the secrecy of voting. More than one million Kyrgyz young users of Facebook and Instagram saw the announcement of the competition, more than 200 participants sent their ideas, of which 44 best ideas were selected and the authors were invited to participate in the Youth Laboratory.
Then international experts on elections and design thinking worked with the young people, as well as mentors on video production, events and social networking to help the trainees better elaborate their ideas and create a quality product. At the end of the training, 30 participants received financing and were given time to implement their projects, which were published and promoted in social networks from August 10 to 24. The videos were seen by more than one million voters and more than 66,000 users actively responded to the content of the videos by expressing their emotions and comments.
On August 27, the Central Election Commission hosted the award ceremony for the winners who were determined by the largest coverage of the audience. In addition, young voters were familiarized with the organization of the precinct election commission, the use of equipment for biometric identification of voters and automatic reading ballot boxes and even chose the winner of the category “Audience Choice Award” by using the automatic reading ballot box. Five winners were identified; they received valuable prizes as well as further promotion of their videos in the social networks. Participants in the competition noted that participation was an important event for them as it helped understand that young people actually constitute the majority of voters and can significantly influence the choice of their future.
The spread of hate speech significantly complicates the electoral process, reduces confidence and contributes to the polarization of society, increasing the risk of complaints, leading to violence and instability. Political parties compete in the electoral process and often use strong statements that do not always represent hate speech. It is therefore critical that law enforcement agencies do not become part of the political struggle and clearly distinguish hate speech from other expressions. The Central Election Commission, together with UNDP, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Kyrgyz Association of Women Judges, with the support from the Swiss government, developed a training course for the officers of law enforcement agencies on investigation of hate speech cases. Starting on August 26, training sessions are arranged for the staff of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Office of the Prosecution and the State Committee of National Security. During the trainings, participants got acquainted with international standards on hate speech prevention as well as national legislation regulating this issue, and review practical cases from the international and national practice.
In addition, online discussions on increasing women’s participation in politics continue with well-known politicians and international experts; these discussions are conducted by UNDP with the support from the Swiss Government. The experience of Armenia, Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Germany, the EU, Latvia, Moldova and Ukraine was studied during previous discussions. This week, a meeting was held with Alexander Shlyk, Head of the OSCE / ODIHR Election Department, who is responsible for organizing international observation in all 57 OSCE member states. Alexander spoke about OSCE / ODIHR methodology for monitoring women’s political participation, highlighted the key issues that are of interest to international observers in this area and drew attention to trends in the region.
As in the previous weeks of preparation, training continues for all actors in the electoral process - political parties, civil society organizations, the media and law enforcement agencies.