The years to 2020 are critical for the development of democracy in Kyrgyzstan.

Westminster Foundation for Democracy is offering our unique mix of parliamentary and political party expertise to help the Jogorku Kenesh and its factions consolidate their growing role in national life.

Kyrgyzstan is an island of democracy in Central Asia. Real progress has been made since the 2010 constitution established a parliamentary form of government for the first time. But external support remains instrumental in ensuring that Kyrgyzstan’s institutions are able to deliver stability and good governance. The bar on constitutional amendments until 2020 offers a clear opportunity to support and embed democratic practice – and protect longer-term stability and development as a result.

Our aim in the years to come is to go beyond existing donor support, which focuses on building the institutional capacity of the parliament, to address the issue of how factions operate in parliament. By assisting in this, and helping politicians make their work more responsive to citizens’ expectations, WFD can play a niche role which plays to our strengths.

WFD brings a comparative advantage in parliamentary reform work and is one of the few donors in Kyrgyzstan with strong access and influence in the parliament. Our current work builds on the relationships we established with the parliament during our 2012-15 programme, which set up regional committee hearings as a new way for MPs to engage with local communities. Our pilots in Osh and Naryn, two of the country’s seven regions, have led to the widespread adoption of this new approach. After the 2015 election, our induction event for MPs has helped a new generation of parliamentarians understand how to make the most of the opportunities, and cope with the challenges, that lie ahead.

Our hope is that by sharing British experience both from within the UK political parties and from within Westminster’s parliament, the factions which sit in the Sixth Convocation of the parliament can become increasingly effective in driving good policy, holding the executive to account, representing all aspects of Kyrgyz life and increasing citizen participation in the political process. WFD aims to combine a thematic approach which fosters cross-party relationships, while forging sister-party relationships between the factions and UK parties.  Legislative oversight, policy development, gender equality, minority representation and human rights are all areas of interest we want to explore.

The factions, as much as the Jogorku Kenesh itself, are the institutions which are crucial to maintaining the post-2010 political settlement. WFD’s work will help them develop together, providing a framework for competing elites to peacefully distribute power while respecting the rule of law.

Featured image – flickr – Matthis Buehler