On December 22, 2019, elections to the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis and local Kengashes of people’s deputies will be held. It should be noted that the electoral process proceeds in fundamentally new conditions. The motto of this election campaign “New Uzbekistan – New Elections” is a reflection of the changed political situation.
These changes are the result of transformations initiated by the leadership of the republic. President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev has repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that insufficient work is being done to find practical solutions to pressing problems affecting the population. So, the legislative function of the parliament is rather passively realized. In 2017, out of 136 legislative initiatives, only 27 were put forward by deputies. Moreover, they mainly related to the introduction of amendments and additions to existing laws on the basis of decrees and resolutions of the President of the country.
In this regard, as well as to fulfill the tasks under the Strategy of Action in the five priority areas of development of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021, the need to improve the activities of parliament in the following areas is noted:
Firstly, the modernization of mechanisms for the implementation of the legislative function of the Oliy Majlis. The Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan approved the Concept for the improvement of standard-setting activities. The key objective of this document is to create the necessary conditions for the implementation of reforms affecting various areas.
As the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted in the Address to the Parliament in 2017, “the people should be the only source and author of the law”. This principle is currently being applied in practice. So, from January 1, 2019, the Unified Electronic System for the development and approval of draft regulatory legal acts was launched. The platform allows discussing new bills with the population.
At the initiative of the head of country, the portal “Mening Fikrim” (My opinion) was created. It enables citizens to make collective electronic appeals. Moreover, through this mechanism more than 3 thousand calls have already been received. This is evidence of the active citizenship of the population, and also reflects the timeliness of the introduction of such an instrument of interaction between the authorities and citizens.
Secondly, the strengthening of control over the implementation of laws by the parliament. In the Address to the Oliy Majlis in 2018, the President of Uzbekistan emphasized that “members of the government do not feel proper responsibility to the parliament.” This is due to the fact that the Oliy Majlis does not participate in the appointment of heads of ministries. On April 1, 2019, the Law “On Amendments and Additions to Some Legislative Acts of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Connection with the Democratization of the Formation of the Government and Strengthening its Responsibility” entered into force on April 1, 2019. Now, in accordance with the new procedure, the candidacies of ministers must be approved by the Legislative Chamber.
In addition, the Prime Minister, together with members of the government, quarterly submits to the Legislative Chamber a report on the implementation of the state program for the corresponding year arising from the Message from the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the Oliy Majlis. As a result, the accountability of the Cabinet of Ministers to the parliament is substantially increased, and therefore the principle of democracy is ensured.
A breakthrough was the strengthening of parliamentary control over the adoption and review of the implementation of the country’s budget. To implement these functions, on the initiative of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Office for the State Budget under the Oliy Majlis was created.
The adoption of the Law on the State Budget of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2020 for the first time in the history of independent Uzbekistan deserves special attention.
The regulatory legal act is designed to ensure transparency in the execution of the approved budget, increasing the role and responsibility of the Oliy Majlis, Kengashes of people’s deputies of the regions and the city of Tashkent in this process.
Thirdly, the expansion of contacts of the parliament with international partners. Since 2017, in line with the ongoing reforms in the country, inter-parliamentary relations have reached a new level. In particular, the membership of Uzbekistan in the International Parliamentary Union, as well as the Parliamentary Assemblies of the OSCE and the CIS was renewed.
In 2018 and the first half of 2019, the number of foreign delegations adopted in the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis amounted to 68, and the number of official visits to foreign countries by deputies of the Legislative Chamber and apparatus employees exceeded 70. With the participation and under the auspices of the parliament only in the first half of 2019 more than 50 international conferences, seminars and round tables have been held.
The work is also intensified through inter-parliamentary cooperation groups. In 2019, the number of such groups under the Oliy Majlis reached 28. On the initiative of Uzbekistan, inter-parliamentary friendship groups were created with the countries of Central Asia, Russia, the United States, China, the leading countries of Europe, Japan, South Korea, India, Turkey and others.
It should be noted that inter-parliamentary relations act as the basis for deepening relations between Uzbekistan and the countries of the world, and also allow adopting best practices to improve the work of parliament.
Together, the above factors will contribute to the ongoing development of parliamentarism in Uzbekistan. The main goal of the ongoing reforms is to strengthen the role of parliament in the process of democratization and modernization of the country. As emphasized by the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, “the parliament of our country should become a genuine school of democracy, the initiator and decisive force in the implementation of reforms”.
In this context, the current parliamentary elections are of great importance. The formation of a new, more proactive and young composition of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis and local Kengashes of people’s deputies will allow further development of parliamentarism in Uzbekistan, ensuring the implementation of the principle of democracy.
Chief research fellow, Information and Analytical Center for International Relations