POLITICS OF TURKMENISTANBenedict (Viktor) Gombocz
Geography of Turkmenistan Location: CentralAsia, bordering the CaspianSea, between Iran and Kazakhstan Area: Total: 488,100 sq km Country comparison to the world: 53 Land: 469,930 sq km Water: 18,170 sq km Area – comparative: Slightly larger thanCalifornia Land boundaries: Total: 3,736 km Border countries: Afghanistan 744 km, Iran 992 km,Kazakhstan 379 km, Uzbekistan 1,621 km Coastline: 0 km (note –Turkmenistan borderstheCaspian Sea (1,768 km)
Religion in Turkmenistan TheTurkmens ofTurkmenistan, like their relativesin neighboring Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Iran,are predominantly Muslim. According to the CIA Factbook,Turkmenistan is89% Muslim and 9% Eastern Orthodox; mostethnic Russians practice Orthodox Christianity. The remaining 2% is unidentified. A 2009 Pew Research Center report indicated ahigher percentage of Muslims, with 93.1% of thepopulation ofTurkmenistan following Islam. The vast majority ofTurkmens willingly classifythemselves as Muslims and recognize Islam as acentral part of their cultural inheritance. Nevertheless, only some advocate a renewal ofIslam’s standing only as a characteristic of nationalrevival.
Religion statistics Muslim 89% Eastern Orthodox 9% Unknown 2%
Turkmenistan’s political system:Overview The political system ofTurkmenistan functions in the structure of a presidentialrepublic; the President serves as both head of state and head of government. Turkmenistan has a single-party system, but according to the government, it hasbegun a transition to a multi-party system. Turkmenistan is occasionally classified as a “reclusive ex-Soviet nation”.
Turkmenistan’s political system:Government Capital (and largest city): Ashgabat Official languages:Turkmen Inter-ethnic languages: Russian, Uzbek Demonym:Turkmen Government: Dominant-party presidentialstate President: Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow Legislature: Mejlis
Turkmenistan’s political system: Legalparties Democratic Party ofTurkmenistan (124) Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (1)
Turkmenistan’s political system: Bannedparties Communist Party ofTurkmenistan Republican Party ofTurkmenistan Turkmen Union of Democratic Forces
Turkmenistan’s political system:Legislative branch Under the constitution of 1992, there exist two parliamentary bodies: a unicameral People’sCouncil or Halk Maslahaty (supreme legislative body of up to 2,500 representatives, of whomsome are elected through popular vote and of whom some are nominated; convenes at leastannually) and a unicameralAssembly or Mejlis (50 seats, planned to be enlarged to 65; itsmembers are elected through popular vote to serve five-year terms). Elections: People’s Council – most recent were held in December 2008; Mejlis – most recent wereheld in December 2008. Election results: Mejlis – Democratic Party ofTurkmenistan 100%; seats by party – DPT 50 (note:all 50 elected officials are DPT members and are preapproved by President Berdimuhamedow. In late 2003, a new law was approved that limited the powers of the Mejlis; the Halk Maslahatywas made the highest legislative organ. The Halk Maslahaty can now lawfully dissolve the Mejlis, and the president may now partake inthe Mejlis as its highest leader; the Mejlis may no longer approve or modify the constitution, orannounce referendums or its elections. As the president is both the “Chairman for Life” of the Halk Maslahaty and the highest leader ofthe Mejlis, the 2003 law produced the result of making him the only authority of both theexecutive and the legislative branches of government.
Turkmenistan’s political system:Administrative divisions Turkmenistan is split into five provinces (plural –welayatlar , singular – welayat): Ahal Province(Ashgabat), Balkan Province(Balkanabat, previously Nebitdag), DaşoguzProvince (previouslyTashauz), Lebap Province(previously Charjou Province),Turkmenabat(previously Charjou), and Mary Province.
Turkmenistan’s political system:Foreign policy Turkmenistan’s foreign policy is based on the standing of a lasting positive neutralityrecognized by the UN General Assembly Resolution on Permanent Neutrality ofTurkmenistan on 12 December 1995. Articles on the foreign policy ofTurkmenistan as a neutral nation: Regional Strategy of Ashgabat Neutral Factor ofTurkmenistan TheWorld RecognizedTurkmenistan’s Neutrality 9YearsAgo
Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow Born in Babarab on 29 June 1957. 2nd and current President ofTurkmenistansince 21 December 2006. Dentist by occupation; served in thegovernment under President SaparmuratNiyazov as minister of health from 1997 untilhe served as Deputy PM from 2001. Became acting president after Niyazov’s deathon 21 December 2006; won the subsequentFebruary 2007 presidential election. Faced no significant opposition in that vote,winning by an overwhelming margin. Won re-election with 97% of the vote duringthe February 2012 presidential election. Uses the honorific name Arkadag, meaning“Patron”.
Democratic Party of Turkmenistan Ruling political party inTurkmenistan. Founded in 1991; was created subsequent to the Soviet Union’s demise as a successor partyto the Communist Party of theTurkmen SSR. Was led by ex-Soviet provincial Party leader Saparmurat Niyazov from the collapse of theSoviet Union early in the 1990s until he died in 2006. Current President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow is its leader. The old party’s institutes and standards were successfully unaltered in the process, as wasthe old guard. Has faced restricted and irregular challenges s from alternative political parties in the past,though it has never faced a major challenge due to the authoritarian nature ofTurkmenistan’s politics. Opposition parties are by and large defeated before they make any important grounds inpublic opinion.
Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Political party inTurkmenistan. Was founded on 21 August 2012 as the country’s first opposition party. Party leader Ovezmammed Mammedov was elected to the Assembly ofTurkmenistan on 10 June 2013, during a by-election held for five empty seats.
Communist Party of Turkmenistan Formerly the Communist Party of the Turkmen SSR, theTurkmen SSR’s governingcommunist party, and a part of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Was led by Saparmurat Niyazov from 1985; in 1991, he renamed the party to theDemocratic Party ofTurkmenistan, itself no longer a communist party. The current Communist Party ofTurkmenistan was expelled during Niyazov’s presidencyfollowing independence, and it remains expelled.
Republican Party of Turkmenistan One of numerous political parties that have been banned withinTurkmenistan. Leaders of the expel-based RPT include Nurmuhammet Hanamow, who went into exile in 2002 andAnnadurdy Hajyýew, who sister Ogulsapar Myradowa perished in aTurkmen prison in September 2006. Latest opposition party; functions in exile. Due to restricted opposition inTurkmenistan, it was forced to form and function outsideTurkmenistan. There are two big groupings ofTurkmen in exile. The first are opposition, or dissidents, normally of a democratic nature; the second are exiledTurkmenpoliticians, frequently former superior officials who were blamed for Saparmurat Niyazov’s claimedattempted murder in November 2002, reformists of unreliable stripes. With Saparmurat Niyazov’s death on 21 December 2006, some believed the circumstances might change,perhaps opening for the extension of various parties within the country, but these expectations werenever seen, since Niyazov’s successor , Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, did not make any major reforms tothe political structure; the Democratic Party ofTurkmenistan remains one of the only two legal parties(the other being the only opposition party, Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs), and Niyazov’s cult ofpersonality has vanished.
Turkmen Union of Democratic Forces Turkmen political party that was founded inVienna, Austria, on 23 November 2003. Ex-Foreign MinisterAwdy Kulyýew, ex-ambassador toTurkey Nurmuhammet Hanamow, ex-central bank chief Hudaýberdi Orazow, and ex-DeputyAgriculture Minister SaparmuratYklymoware among the founding members. The deceased president Saparmurat Niyazov, observing the party’s establishment, said ontelevision, “Its a pity that many states that pretend to be democratic give them the floor. Butshouldnt these states extradite criminals and terrorists?”. He also described theTUDF as “cowards and traitors who stole that much money that it did not fittheir pockets. All of them are thieves, terrorists and fugitives, but if they are not guilty, we will notpersecute them. Let them face the court here and then open their parties inTurkmenistan.”