On 8 December 1992, the Uzbek Parliament adopted a new Constitution which made Uzbekistan a Presidential Republic. Over the years, President Karimov has increased his powers. In fact, the Prime Minister and the cabinet have very little power. For example, the president elects the regional heads of government. Furthermore, the separation of powers is poor, partly because the legal system is influenced by the executive.
After Islam Karimov came to power in 1989, he was elected president for the first time in 1991. In 1996, his term was extended by referendum to the year 2000. The presidential elections in 2000 were described by the OSCE as "neither free nor fair". President Karimov was again re-elected as president, after which his term was extended from five to seven years by referendum in 2002.
In the same referendum a new parliamentary system was established, which has been in force since 2004. The old unicameral parliament (Majlis) with 250 members was replaced by a bicameral parliament (Oliy Majlis). It consists of a 120-member legislative chamber elected directly and a 100-member Senate, of which 16 are appointed by the President and 84 are elected through regional councils. According to Karimov, this system has increased democracy, since the government is now elected by the parliament rather than the president. In practice, however, not much has changed.
In the parliament, mainly pro-presidential parties are represented. The opposition consists of some (marginalised) secular parties. There are also some radical Islamic groups, which are not official political parties. However, any form of opposition is systematically suppressed. The main parties are the People's Democratic Party and the Liberal Democratic Party, both of which are pro-government.
Like many countries of the former Soviet Union, Uzbekistan is facing emigration from the Russian minority. Uzbeks now make up about 80% of the population, Russians 5.5% and Tajiks 5%. The government wants to reduce this emigration as much as possible.
The political climate in Uzbekistan has deteriorated in recent years. Political parties based on religion are banned and (alleged) Islamic activists are regularly violently repressed. In recent years, there have been several (suicide) attacks attributed to Islamic groups. The Uzbek government reacted strongly to these.
There is growing social unrest due to the deteriorating economic situation. An intensification of the repression of the opposition and the population seems to be expected.
The current political situation is described in the chapter on history.
Uzbekistan's economic policy is state-run, as it was in the days of communism. The government's policy is mainly aimed at import substitution and self-sufficiency. Due to these policies, Uzbekistan has accumulated a large external debt. Official data show constant GDP growth from 1997, around 5.3% in 2017. Uzbekistan has many natural resources, such as gold, oil and gas. Most of the energy is used for domestic consumption. The country is largely dependent on agriculture, especially cotton. Since one of the government's goals is to be self-sufficient in food, parts of the country have shifted from cotton to grain cultivation. Cotton and raw materials are still the main export products.
By tightening monetary policy, the Uzbek Central Bank has managed to curb inflation somewhat since 2002. Tax revenues are relatively high, keeping the fiscal deficit under control. One problem is widespread smuggling. Privatisation plans have been very delayed. As a result, Uzbekistan has been able to attract little foreign direct investment. Reforms that should be made include land reform, improving transparency and reducing corruption.
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