Snap Presidential Election in Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev Wants a Third Term
Shavkat Mirziyoyev is set to retain power as Uzbekistan president for a third term as Central Asia’s largest country opened polls on July 9. He called for snap election in May after a constitutional referendum increased the presidential tenure from five years to seven.
If Mirziyoyev wins the election, he could stay in power until 2037. The 65-year-old won the presidency in 2016 and was re-elected in 2021. Now, he is expected to reign again with a majority of votes. Mirziyoyev eased Islam Karimov’s, former president of Uzbekistan, draconian policies with much needed political and economic reforms.
Uzbekistan has seen freedom of speech expanded under Mirziyoyev’s regime, with the emergence of some independent news media and bloggers. He eased tight controls on the religion of Islam in the predominantly Muslim country. Moreover, Mirziyoyev abolished state regulation of cotton production and sales, thus ending decades of forced labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton industries. He also lifted controls on hard currency, brought in foreign investment, and improved relations with the West, and balanced economic ties with Russia and China.
Mirziyoyev in his presidential campaign, against three unknown candidates from the Ecological Party; the People’s Democratic Party; and the Social-Democratic Party of Adolate (Justice), pledged to create jobs, ease labor migration, build schools and hospitals, boost business and attract more investment. He has highlighted himself as a “reformer” to create a “New Uzbekistan”.
However, there are concerns of no real opposition. Many Uzbeks believe the ruling elite does not want to allow genuine political competition, with little hope of a free or fair election. The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said the campaign has been low-key. It reflects lack of opposition to the incumbent.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, in a pre-voting report, said the political landscape has remained unchanged. It stated that none of the parliamentary political parties stand in open opposition to the president’s policies and agenda.