Comparative Politics

Kyrgyzstan as a Delayed Colored Revolution?

Joshua Tucker Apr 8 '10

Professor “Kelly McMann”:, one of the foremost US authorities on Kyrgyz politics, sends along the following comments in response to my previous posts (see “here”: and “here”:

bq. Assuming regime change does occur in Kyrgyzstan, the events there may, in fact, fit the electoral or colored revolution model, with a modification. President Bakiev was elected in July 2009, and while this election did encourage the opposition to coalesce and some localized protests to occur (See “Eurasianet”:, mass protests did not emerge until nine months later. Instead of elections, a trigger for the mass protests was a different kind of opportunity for political contestation, a kurultai, or national gathering, which took place near the end of March. Instead of being a show of support for the government as Bakiev hoped, it became an opportunity to criticize him. The utility price hikes reported as the trigger in the Western media occurred early this year with a second wave planned for July, so they do not seem to be the trigger.

bq. Here are some other issues to follow in Kyrgyzstan:

bq. Will the current conflict turn more subnational as politics in Kyrgyzstan have often played out in terms of the North versus the South? Reportedly government officials and opposition hailing from the north were frustrated with a fall government shake-up which seemed to empower Bakiev’s allies from the south. (See “Eurasianet”: Today’s reports indicate that Bakiev has now retreated to the South to mobilize supporters. However, at least one of the opposition leaders is a southerner so this tactic may not be effective.

bq. And following the lead of the U.S. press, what is the future of the U.S. military base in Kyrgyzstan? The U.S. press has reported that some opposition leaders dislike the U.S. military presence. This may be posturing to secure more money from the U.S. government. If the feeling is genuine, however, it may nevertheless dissolve as opposition leaders take power and realize they can obtain U.S. government funds, whether for development or their own pockets.

bq. I last conducted interviews in Kyrgyzstan in June 2009. Reports from those in the field now would be much appreciated.