Few would have expected it to be possible a few months ago, but Kyrgyzstan managed to hold a free, fair, and surprisingly non-violent and trouble-free parliamentary election this weekend. In an assessment widely shared by regional experts, David Trilling, writing at EurasiaNet, concluded, "Kyrgyzstan's parliamentary elections couldn't have gone better." Turnout exceeded 50 percent of the country's 2.8 million eligible voters and produced sharply divided results that will force political leaders to compromise to form a coalition government. Five political parties, out of the 29 that participated, overcame the 5 percent threshold required to receive seats in the 120-member parliament.
After the success of the ballot became apparent, U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated Kyrgyz voters for "selecting their government through peaceful, democratic means." Obama added that "yesterday's vote . . . renews our conviction to help the courageous people of Kyrgyzstan consolidate their democracy, jumpstart their economy, and maintain peace and security."
Just as the earlier political instability in Kyrgyzstan threatened to harm many important regional interests, renewed political stability offers the international community an opportunity, though perhaps a fleeting one, to consolidate important regional security gains.