Talking to myself about foreign policy, US politics, technology, &c.

My Daily Constitutional

While we’re on the topic of Constitutions, Kyrgyzstan just got itself a new constitution.

It’s a bit depressing; the little “Switzerland of Central Asia” is setting itself up to be another of the banal autocracies across the region. It’s a significant step backwards from the document that was forced through a year ago under dramatic popular pressure. The referendum passed with almost Hussainian levels of support with 80% of the people voting and almost all of them backing the president’s plan.

Of course, popular referenda to give the appearance of democracy while stripping it have been around since Napoleon. Come to think of it, we have an effort to something similar in California, home of popular democracy run amok.

On the positive side, this should clean up the confusion and chaos that have engulfed the country since President Akiev’s ouster in the much-ballyhooed Tulip Revolution.

One of the most important elements in it will be the switch from single-member districts to party lists.

Clearly Bakiev’s hope is that a court party will develop to support him, ala Russia and Kazakhstan; if so, the legislature will be simply a rubber stamp. However, there are some more positive possibilities. For one, local mobsters and biznessmen may be less able to get seats – and immunity from prosecution. Over the long term, this could promote the development of a loyal opposition and some real way of alternating power other than massive street protests.

Biggest difference between KG and its more thuggish neighbors remains its grinding poverty. There just ain’t the money to buy off everyone.

The Economist, naturally, has great analysis on the topic.

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