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Sunday, December 11


Sunday, December 11

A constitutional referendum in Kyrgyzstan

Elections in Romania



Photo: Kyrgyz Government
Photo: Kyrgyz Government

On Sunday, Kyrgyzstan will hold a constitutional referendum. A total of 26 amendments are on the table, the most significant of which is a proposal to weaken the president and parliament and give more powers to the prime minister and his cabinet.

In 2010, Kyrgyzstan became a parliamentary democracy after President Kurmanbek Bakiev was ousted following ethnic unrest between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. Following the referendum in 2010, the Central Asian country enacted constitutional changes which prevented power from being concentrated in the hands of a small elite.

While current President Atambaev is constitutionally limited to a single 6-year term, analysts believe the president is preparing the ground for his inner circle to hold on to power.

Glaringly, the current constitution does not specify whether the prime minister must be a lawmaker or indeed a member of any political party at all. Former Kyrgyz PM Temir Sariev was a member of a party that failed to get into parliament, but was eventually appointed after the ruling coalition nominated him and the house approved it.


Photo: Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images
Photo: Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images

The European Union’s second-poorest member-state will head to the polls on Sunday, with less than 50% of Romanians expected to participate.

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The leftist Social Democrats were ousted from power in November 2015 following mass protests over a deadly nightclub fire in Bucharest. Many Romanians accused Prime Minister Victor Ponta and his Social Democrats party of official corruption and not adequately dealing with the aftermath.

However, the party has since witnessed a resurgence in popularity, taking out more than half of the country’s mayoral posts in June and it is leading the polls for Sunday’s general election. The party is running a campaign on promises of pay rises and tax cuts.

They might be overcome by a coalition between the Liberals and Save Romania Union, polling at 18% and 19%, respectively. If victorious, the two parties will back Dacian Ciolos to stay on as prime minister.

Romania’s NATO membership and strategic location between Central Europe, the Balkans, and former Soviet space makes it a pivotal country in times of escalating US-Russia tensions. Come January, President-elect Trump will be looking build solid ties with the country’s leadership and reinforce Washington’s relationship with its treaty ally.

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