Speech by Ms.Chamberlain on the results of the 2021 parliament elections

Posted April 5, 2022

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s a great privilege to be part of today’s post-election public dialogue. On behalf of UNDP in the Kyrgyz Republic, I would like to express our sincere appreciation to the CEC, to the government, and to all partners on our partnership and continuing effort to strengthen electoral process of the country.

As you know, UNDP, with support of other entities of the UN System and operating under a mandate by the Under-Secretary General of Peacebuilding and Political Affairs, has provided substantial support to the elections in 2020 and 2021. The elections support project was implemented as a part of the UN’s overall effort to enhance the inclusion of international electoral and human rights norms and standards, as well as to support greater transparency and participation.

In this electoral cycle the country faced a number of unforeseen challenges—in fact, when we started this cycle of  assistance in late 2019, we could not foresee that 2021 would entail in fact three nation-wide electoral processes and one referendum. After adoption of the new Constitution in April, the detailed electoral system was introduced in August, only 3 months prior to the election day. As we all know, good practice in the field of elections suggest that such fundamental changes shold not take effect less than one year prior to an election, in order to facilitate proper access to information by all elections stakeholders, not least the general public.

Indeed, CEC with the help of all stakeholders here today had to adjust its electoral operation and conduct voter education so that each citizen of Kyrgzstan could learn the new electoral system and voting process and make an informed decision in the short time frame. All the partners present here today made a significant contribution to make this election as credible and transparent as possible, and it is important to acknowledge and respect significant accomplishments that the CEC and its partners made.  

Of course - and indeed like in every election – we observed some challenges that should be overcome in the future electoral cycles. The low turnout rates and high number invalid votes need dedicated reflections, along with technical errors in the tabulation process, among others. And it remains important to understand the determinants of inclusion of women, persons with disabilities, youth, migrants and ethnic minorities.

I hope that today’s public dialogue will serve as an opportunity for reflection and frank discussion on how to further improve the electoral system and strengthen democratic governance of the country. I hope to hear especially the voices of national civil society organisations, and I want to commend all the CSO partners for the strong and constructive role they have played throughout the cycle, and for the partnership spirit in which they have engaged with us.

UNDP remains committed to support democratic processes in the Kyrgyz Republic. The presence here of our UN Resident Coordinator a signal that this commitment is shared by the whole UN system. UNDP has been assisting CEC to realize credible and transparent elections together with its partner organizations. Some of the achievements include operational support to introducing digital technologies, introducing monitoring and reporting mechanisms of campaign finance, and increasing inclusion and diversity by promoting the participation of women, youth, PwDs, migrants and ethnic minorities.

A small but important example of progress: To raise awareness of the importance of election participation among youth, Telegram Bot and the Zhanyran Youth Campaign webpage were launched before the parliamentary elections, which reached more than 1 million people. In this November election, the percentage of first-time voters who participated in the election has increased about 9% compared to other elections. So we need to learn also from the positive experiences and make sure to scale them up in the future.

I would like to underscore that the achievements in capacity building and inclusion of electoral stakeholders would not have been possible without financial support of our donor partners, the Embassies of Japan, Switzerland, and Germany.

While this electoral cycle concludes, the UN envisaged to provide support towards the next electoral cycle, especially on civic education. We believe it is of vital importance to enhance citizens’ capacities in decision-making processes such that each citizen has full knowledge and respect for democratic values and principles. And jointly together with IFES and OSCE, we are planning to support a newly launched civic education centre to enhance citizens’ knowledge and interests in the electoral and governance process of the country.

Allow me to end by appreciating the CEC and all stakeholders on significant accomplishments during this election cycle. We look forward to seeing CEC further improving the electoral process, and the strengthening of vital nation-wide civic education activities, including through the civic education centre. From the UN and UNDP side, we are ready for our future collaboration towards the next electoral cycle.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.