Turkmenistan holds parliamentary vote amid entrenched autocracy

Turkmenistan holds parliamentary vote amid entrenched autocracy

The 125-member National Assembly, Turkmenistan’s unicameral legislature, will be elected today. Elections are held every five years, most recently in

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Photo: AFP/Attila Kisbenedek

The 125-member National Assembly, Turkmenistan’s unicameral legislature, will be elected today. Elections are held every five years, most recently in 2013.

Turkmenistan has long been rife with political restrictions, with the president holding autocratic power—the Central Asian nation ranks ahead of only Eritrea and North Korea in the World Press Freedom Index. President since 2007, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow had term limits on his office removed in 2016 with the legislature’s support and wields unchallenged power.

According to released data, Berdimuhamedow won a 98% majority with 97% voter turnout in his most recent election last year. Such figures have drawn scepticism, which the president seeks to dampen with a third-party election assessment today. However, no party in today’s election opposes the president.

Expect Turkmenistan’s election to be fairly administered, with Berdimuhamedow eager to prove his electoral legitimacy. However, these elections’ results will not change the political landscape, given the candidates’ complete support of Berdimuhamedow. Ashgabat is thus likely to keep its policies unchanged, especially in building stronger economic relations with other Central Asian authoritarian states and with China, thanks to the natural gas trade.

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