At a session on November 24, the Senate of Oliy Majlis approved a constitutional law on amendments to the procedure for holding elections and referendums in Uzbekistan. The document was sent to the president for signing.
The Election Code includes a procedure for holding elections to the Legislative Chamber on the basis of both majoritarian and proportional (mixed) electoral systems. In this system, electoral districts are divided into single-member constituencies and a single electoral district. 75 deputies (members of parliament, MPs) of the Legislative Chamber will be elected from single-mandate constituencies under the majoritarian system (voting for a candidate), the remaining 75 — under the proportional system, i.e. on the basis of votes given to political parties (based on party lists).
According to the new system, political parties will receive at least 7% of the votes of those who took part in the elections (five deputy seats).
Senators proposed to reduce the number of deputies needed to establish a political faction from nine to five, considering that funding will come from the state.
At present, if a candidate receives more than half of the votes, they would be considered an elected member of parliament. In contrast, if amendments are approved, the candidate who receives the largest number of votes in single-mandate constituencies in comparison to other candidates will be considered as elected.
Political parties that receive at least 7% of the votes cast in a single constituency in the elections to the Legislative Chamber acquire a mandate in accordance with the established procedure.
In addition, regional and Tashkent city kengashes (councils) of deputies will be elected according to a new system. The Central Election Commission (CEC) will establish sub-commissions on the regional, district, and city level.
The amendments provide for reducing the number of members of the CEC from a minimum of fifteen to nine. At least one of its members will represent Karakalpakstan.
The same person cannot be elected as a chairman of the CEC for more than two consecutive terms.
Furthermore, Senators proposed to increase the minimum number of female candidates from 30% to 40% of the total number of nominees.
The number of senators is reduced from the current 100 to 65, i.e. four instead of six senators will be elected from the regions, and the president will appoint nine senators instead of 16.
New norms are introduced to define the authorities of district and city election commissions.
Senators noted that the adoption of this law “serves to further expand the role of political parties in the activities of parliament and local representative bodies and to create a legal basis for the introduction of a mixed electoral system for the formation of the deputy corps of the Legislative Chamber.”
On October 31, the Legislative Chamber adopted the constitutional law, but MP Doniyor Ganiev was the only one to vote against it. He acknowledged the advantages of a mixed electoral system. Nevertheless, he opposed the law adoption as his proposals were not reflected in the draft. Namely, he suggested allowing independent candidates to participate in the majoritarian system and clarifying the timing of elections for vacant parliamentary seats.
According to him, when the bill was introduced, he expected that the experience of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan — both countries allow self-nominated candidates — would be taken into account. “But, later, it turned out that independent candidates were not allowed. Therefore, the transition to a mixed electoral system loses some sense, since in both cases the same five parties will be competing, albeit in different formats. I agree that this raises concerns regarding no major changes in the future,” he shared, expressing hope that such a possibility will appear in the future.
The transition to a mixed electoral system to increase the role of political parties was proposed by the president of Uzbekistan in March when he met with MPs. After a referendum on the constitutional amendments, on May 8, Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a decree introducing a mixed electoral system.
Previously, parliamentary elections in Uzbekistan were held under a majoritarian system, in which candidates who received a majority of votes in their constituency were considered to be elected.
Political analyst Farkhad Tolipov previously explained the work of the new system. He also noted that in conditions of political stagnation the transition to the new electoral system would not bring the expected results.