Accountability as a means to strengthen parliamentary democracy in the Kyrgyz Republic: from fragments to a system, from slogans to impact

17.10.2016 11:02
The Swiss Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic announced the launch of a new initiative to support the development of parliamentary democracy in Kyrgyzstan.
Accountability as a means to strengthen parliamentary democracy in the Kyrgyz Republic: from fragments to a system, from slogans to impact

Is there  a system in  the Kyrgyz Republi, that provides accountability of the authorities to the people of the country? The answer to this question was discussed during the presentation of the study on October 14, 2016 in Bishkek with participation of a large number of deputies of the Jogorku Kenesh, representatives of the Government and the President of the Kyrgyz Republic and development partners from among foreign donors and international organizations. The presentation took place at the initiative of the Swiss Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic, which announced the launch of a new initiative to support the development of parliamentary democracy in Kyrgyzstan.

The Swiss Government has consistently supported the efforts of the Kyrgyz Republic in building accountable governance system that meets the principles of democracy and citizens' needs. By funding development projects in various sectors for more than 25 years, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) recognizes the great achievements of the country in building accountable and democratic governance, a clear indication of which was the development of a parliamentary form of government. At the same time, SDC supports the Kyrgyz Republic in promoting systemic changes leading to sustainable development and growth. In continuation of this support SDC is initiating a new development project aimed at supporting parliamentary democracy in Kyrgyzstan through strengthening accountability in general and parliamentary accountability in particular. In anticipation of the project Development Policy Institute commissioned by SDC carried out a study which attempted for the first time to describe the power system of accountability to the people as a whole. There are two pieces of news. The good news is that the system of accountability in the Kyrgyz Republic exists and functions.  News, requiring close attention is that this system does not function at full capacity what is actually expected by the people.

Accountability system includes principals - those to whom accountable, and agents - those who are accountable. For example, the Jogorku Kenesh of the Kyrgyz Republic is accountable to its citizens. In this pair people act as the principal, and the parliament – as an agent. In relations between the Jogorku Kenesh of the Kyrgyz Republic with the Government, on the other hand, the Parliament becomes the principal, and the Government – an agent. The study found that the best indicators of accountability are seen in pair where the principle is the Jogorku Kenesh of the Kyrgyz Republic, and not the best situation in pair where the principal are the citizens. This suggests that the democratic system of governance in the Kyrgyz Republic needs to strengthen the accountability of parliament, government and political parties to citizens. The full text of the study can be found:

In welcoming speech Ambassador of the Swiss Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic René HOLENSTEIN noted that strong and inclusive, accountable institutions is necessary for long-term sustainable development, but they are not sufficient. Without accountability, they are little more than empty shells at best, and instruments of abuse of power at worst. Accountability contributes to better forms of governance through carefully designed checks and balances, clearly defined responsibilities and enforceable laws. But the road towards more democracy and accountability is long and difficult, and often riddled with obstacles and setbacks. Let us be clear: accountability is as an issue that concerns us all. No country is immune to the threat of government misconduct or the abuse of power. This is why strong oversight mechanisms to detect and sanction irregularities are so critically important.

Deputy Chairperson of the Jogorku Kenesh of the Kyrgyz Republic Altynai OMURBEKOVA talked about recently adopted Jogorku Kenesh Development Strategy till 2022, noting that the strategy accentuates great importance to strengthening the accountability of the Parliament to citizens and that became a certain proof of the Parliament’s effort to strengthen parliamentary ties with the people and better inclusion of citizens' interests in the legislative process.

During the discussion of study results participants noted that demand for accountability on the part of citizens has tremendous significance and it should grow with the increase in the level of legal and financial literacy of people. At the same time, Anarbek ISMAILOV, Head of Legal Department, Deputy of Authorized Representative of the President of the KR in the Parliament of the KR of the Presidential Administration noted that an important role in strengthening accountability should play the rule of law and strict observance of the law containing the multiple demands on government accountability to society.

In conclusion, Nadezhda DOBRETSOVA, Chairperson of the Board of the Development Policy Institute and one of the study's authors emphasized that the study should not be a prelude to the next strategy or "loud" program, the study only gives an overview of the problem areas that arise in the accountability system, and serves as a benchmark for politicians to make the right decisions regarding the strengthening of democracy through greater accountability.

The logical conclusion of the presentation was the announcement of the Embassy of Switzerland to start a new program to support the Jogorku Kenesh in terms of enhancing its interaction with citizens through the creation of sustainable mechanisms for accountability. The program is designed for 10 years and will provide the Parliament and citizens with opportunity to establish stable channels of communication and reflect the needs of citizens in the decisions of the Jogorku Kenesh.