THE REAL COMPETITION FOR THE RULING PARTY IN PARLIAMENT
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Political parties are the most classical institutions of democracy, and the democratic principle of political pluralism contributes to the existence of a variety of political forces with competition between them for representation in state bodies.
The most important mechanism that allows parties to function in a democratic system is the competition in the public political sphere for the right to represent the interests of society and be the bearer of political power.
Inter-party competition integrates many indicators that reflect the state of affairs in society: it is directly connected with the mechanisms of the electoral process, the forms of political mobilization, and the methods of social control over the actions of the authorities. In other words, the nature of inter-party competition becomes the most accurate indicator of the degree of democracy of political processes. Inter-party competition manifests itself in the form of electoral rivalry, in the development and presentation of party programs to the electorate, in the style and methods of party campaigning, in coalition strategies, etc.,
In the Republic of Uzbekistan, particularly in recent years, on the initiative of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, truly large-scale and fundamental reforms have been implemented in the modernization of the political system, strengthening the role of political parties in further democratizing state governance and building the foundations of a strong civil society.
Thus, in the Development Strategy of New Uzbekistan for 2022-2026, the strengthening of the role of the chambers of the Oliy Majlis and political parties in the consistent continuation of reforms in the country is identified as the 7th priority goal in the field of building a people’s state by elevating human dignity and furtherance a free civil society. Achievement of this goal is provided by further strengthening the role of the chambers of the Oliy Majlis and political parties in developing effective measures for the comprehensive study and resolution of problems in all spheres and by strengthening the participation of parliaments in ensuring the unconditional and full implementation of adopted laws in practice.
Government pays special attention to strengthening the role of political parties in the work of the representative authorities, especially the lower chamber of Parliament, the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis, in which factions of all five political parties are represented - the centrist party “Movement of Entrepreneurs and Business People – Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan” (abbreviated as UzLiDeP), the right-wing “Milly Tiklanish (National Revival) Democratic Party of Uzbekistan” (UzMTDP), left-wing parties: the “People’s Democratic Party of Uzbekistan” (XDP) and the “Justice Social Democratic Party” (ASDP), as well as the Ecological Party of Uzbekistan (EPU).
Following the 2004/2005 parliamentary elections, UzLiDeP is the ruling party in the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis, preserving this status in subsequent parliamentary elections in 2009/2010, 2014/2015, and 2019/2020.
Currently, the balance of power in the lower chamber of parliament is as follows: out of 150 deputies, 53 are representatives of UzLiDeP, 36 are UzMTDP, 24 are ASDP, 22- XDP, and 15 are EPU.
From 2005-2019, the UzLiDeP and the UzMTDP formed the "Bloc of Democratic Forces", and the XDP and the ASDP are considered the parliamentary opposition.
Over the past seven years, there has been a significant increase in inter-factional competition in the Legislative Chamber, which has been reflected in all traditional parliamentary activities.
There is therefore a particular competition in the implementation of the right of legislative initiative. In 2021, members of the UzLiDeP faction initiated 4 bills, and members of the UzMTDP faction initiated 3, the ASDP 2, and the XDP 1. For the first time, the practice of inter-factional debates during the discussion of draft laws was introduced. The principle of not including on the agenda of the Legislative Chamber any bills that have not been discussed in the political party factions has been strictly observed.
As a result of the faction’s promotion of the interests of the electorate in parliamentary debates, the Legislative Chamber in 2021 rejected 6 bills, including 1 bill and 1 draft resolution of the Legislative Chamber on changing the boundaries of an administrative-territorial unit, which was returned to the subjects of the right to initiate legislation for revision. Moreover, after inter-factional debates, 2 bills were withdrawn by the developers themselves.
Particularly heated debates in the factions of the political parties were caused by draft laws providing for amendments and additions in connection with further improvement of the procedure of combating the legalization of proceeds from crime, the system of protection of the rights of persons subjected to narcological diseases, as well as the draft law "On Social Entrepreneurship". During the discussion of these bills, the faction members emphasized that their content does not serve the interests of the electoral part of the population of the Republic and does not fully ensure the reliable protection of the rights and freedoms of all citizens.
As a result, conciliation commissions were set up by the Legislative Chamber and the Senate of the Oliy Majlis on all these bills, in the work of which faction members took all the necessary steps to ensure that the interests of their political parties’ electorates were fully satisfied.
An active inter-factional struggle is also being conducted in the field of accountability of the government - the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan and other executive bodies to the parliament.
As a result, over the past 2021, the Legislative Chamber has dramatically increased the number of parliamentary oversight events, many of which were initiated by factions of political parties. In particular, 23 parliamentary hearings were held at the initiative of the factions, including a presentation by the Minister of Innovative Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the head of the Service for Sanitary and Epidemiological Welfare and Public Health on their work to protect public health during the coronavirus pandemic at the initiative of the XDP.
Members of the factions of political parties in the Legislative Chamber took an active part in 88 hearings of information from the heads of government and management bodies, 47 studies of the implementation of laws at the local level, and 35 monitoring events to study the full and accurate implementation of the decisions of the Legislative Chamber and its committees by the executive authorities.
At the initiative of the factions, 12 parliamentary requests (6 of them by UzLiDeP, 2 to each - ASDP, XDP, and EPU) were sent to officials, suggesting that issues raised by the electorate of political parties, by individual voters., and reflected in the pre-election platforms of the parties, should be immediately resolved.
The practice of preliminary discussion of candidates for the Cabinet of Ministers at faction meetings has also helped to stimulate healthy inter-factional competition. At these meetings, faction members got the opportunity to directly put before the future member of the government issues that are vital for the electorate of political parties and priorities in the statutory documents of political parties.
Particular rivalry is noted in the issue of making deputy requests by members of factions of political parties in the Legislative Chamber. During the period under review, members of the UzLiDeP faction showed clear leadership in this issue, who initiated more than half of the total number of deputy requests (250 out of 462 deputy requests or 54.1%).
Thus, it can be stated that a civilized culture of inter-factional struggle is gradually taking shape in the Uzbekistan parliament, the main aim of which is to fully and comprehensively safeguard the interests of the political parties’ electorate, implementation of the election promises declared by the parties, reflection in domestic and foreign policy of their statutory goals and objectives, and ultimately - increasing the role of political parties in the further democratization of the country and modernization of the economy and liberalization of all other areas of socio-political life in the country.
Head of the Department of the Legislation and
Parliamentary Research Institute
under the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan,
Doctor of Law, Professor