Saturday, December 02, 2006

Two Central Asian Links

Dadodjan Azimov has another perspective on instability in the Ferghana Valley, while Nathan Hamm calls attention to the role of kinship and patronage ties in Kyrgyz politics. Nathan's post is based in part off research for what sounds like an interesting master's thesis. Here's a bit of it:
"I am cautiously optimistic about the new political arrangements in Kyrgyzstan, and there is some hope that what will unfold will show that an undemocratic society can create a democratic government. But even if everything is nice and democratic on paper and even in state practice, there is still room for kin- and region-based networks to act in concert not just through protest, but also through voting. To some extent that happens in healthy democracies as well. Some folks are content with voting how their party, church, or circle of friends tell them. However, the difference is that those networks to which we belong in the West are very rarely based on region or kinship, are easily moved into and out of, rarely involve us being part of a patronage network, and usually command only weak loyalty from us.

"Thankfully, the new Kyrgyz system contains the seeds of change. The new composition of parliament will create pressures for parties to form and compete for votes. Over time, this may weaken the ties between membership in kin and patronage networks and one’s political action. And because there is not much reason to believe Kyrgyzstan will run into other ways of disrupting the clan system, thereby removing its anti-democratic influences, as has been in the case in Kazakhstan where rapid economic growth appears to have thrown the system in flux by, to some extent, removing the shortage economy, this is probably the best way for the country to move forward."


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