BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – Kyrgyzstan’s attempt to bring parliamentary democracy to Central Asia got off to a rocky start Monday with an election surprise that handed a leading position to a nationalist party opposed to the country’s new constitution.
Kyrgyzstan, which hosts a U.S. air base vital to the Afghan war effort, voted Sunday to elect a new and empowered parliament with the right to approve a government and appoint a prime minister.
International monitors hailed the conduct of the vote as a victory for democracy, but the success of nationalist Ata-Zhurt party could set the stage for the reversal of recent successful efforts to dilute the powers of the presidency.
Confounding expectations, the party pulled ahead with around 8.6 percent of eligible votes, with less than 3 percent of ballots left to count. The other four parties that appear to have overcome the 5 percent threshold of votes required to enter parliament were trailing slightly.
More than 55 percent of the country’s 2.8 million eligible voters cast their ballots.