On 12 February 2017 Turkmenistan held its presidential elections. The incumbent, Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov, won with an overwhelming margin in a manifestly unfree and unfair contest against a number of puppet candidates. This article argues that Berdimuhammedov’s continued interest in propping up a “democratic” façade shows that he remains deeply insecure about his own legitimacy as the country’s ruler. In addition, the recent election and earlier legal changes allowing a supposed “multiparty” system suggest that Turkmenistan is seeking to elevate itself in the eyes of the international community, from what Freedom House has called “the worst of the worst” to the level of a “normal” authoritarian regime.
Turkmenistan: Grasping for Legitimacy
Issue Date July 2017
Page Numbers 168-172